HAROLD’S CROSS PUBLIC PARK 21 APRIL 2021
Harold’s Cross got its name from a cross that marked the boundary of the lands owned by the archbishop of Dublin and the lands of the wild Harold Clan from Rathfarnham hundreds of years ago. The cross was probably located somewhere near the present junction at Kenilworth Road. The Celtic Cross, shown in some of my photographs, at the northern tip of the park was erected in 1954.
The green in Harold’s Cross, which is now Harold’s Cross Park, is visible on many of the oldest maps of the area. The archbishop maintained a gallows on the green which helped to keep the Harold Clan at bay. Later, the gallows were replaced with a maypole and this became the centre of dancing and festivities each May, until the practice ceased around the middle of the 19th Century.
In 1890 the Harold’s Cross Improvement Association was formed, and three years later they persuaded the Rathmines’ and Rathgar commissioners to purchase the three acre green from the Irish Land Commission for five shillings. Local businesses contributed £500 toward the creation of a new park.
The park was designed by Mr William Sheppard, the eminent landscape gardener of the time, who is also credited with the design of St. Stephen’s Green and Palmerston Park. Assisted by his son William Junior the park was completed in two months. It officially opened on 1st May 1894.