One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is explore new parts of Dublin. Even little adventures can revive my energy and give me a fresh perspective on my daily life, keeping me from feeling stale and sad (something that can happen to me fairly easily). However, having lived in Dublin for several years at this point I've covered quite a lot of ground. So when I discovered there was a large park I hadn't explored before it went on my list immediately

St. Anne's Park is located in Clontarf, a beautiful seaside area in North Dublin. I've explored Clontarf quite a few times, so the fact that this beauty had escaped my radar all these years is baffling to me. I am a freaking HUNTRESS when it comes to searching for pretty places. I spend way, way too much time scouring Instagram and Pinterest for hidden gems in any city I visit. So I figured that the fact I hadn't made my way to St Anne's all this time must mean it wouldn't be my jam, but ohhhh my oh my was I wrong.  

Joey and I grabbed our BFF Marty (Joey's Mom's new puppy!) and started our adventure on a dreary Sunday afternoon in search of some coffee and some nature (coffee tip: Ebb & Flow in Clontarf is a great spot to pop into before a nature walk!) The park is easily recognizable from any entrance, but the main entrance makes a particularly loud statement:

I have no idea what the history of this piece is but anyone who takes the time to put animals in their art gets an A+ from me!  However Joey and I parked near a side entrance, so rather than passing by the animals we were immediately greeted by this: 

Straight out of a Jane Austen novel, am I right? 

St. Anne's Park is known for it's multiple structures similar to this that are sprinkled around the park  ("follies" I think is their proper name) along with a lot of classic Irish greenery.

But a lot of the structures aren't quite as Jane Austen-y as the first one we spotted. Most of them have been covered in graffiti. Upon first thought it's sad, but seeing it in person it actually adds an interesting element to the forest. Spinning it from a positive perspective, it's kind of a cool "art meets nature" thing? 

It didn't take long to realize this's huge. Like it is absolutely massive. 

An hour of walking and we still hadn't covered it all! There is a LOT to discover- numerous walled gardens (some of which have been locked to the public, probably for the best), festival grounds (there was a carnival happening the day we explored), 35 (yes, THIRTY FREAKIN FIVE) sports pitches, 18 tennis courts, and an old stable that is now an art gallery & extremely cute cafe.

How, how, how how HOW?? How have I not been here before!?!

Also present: the Womping Willow's long lost brother.

Like, clearly fairies live here.

One of the locked gardens I was itching to get into, giving me some serious 'Secret Garden' vibes.  

This place is a true Dublin gem, and definitely in the running for favorite Dublin park. Come Summer I'll be back for picnics and a bike ride!