Ireland is experiencing a running boom. With the excellent choice of trails and green spaces on offer in Dublin, it's no surprise that hoards of runners can be spotted in all parts of the city at just about any time of the day.
The Phoenix Park is one of the largest walled recreational areas in Europe, and one of the largest city-centre parks in the world. The beautiful park, which stretches for approximately 3 kilometres from Heuston Station on the west of the city centre to the suburb of Castleknock, is has a perimeter of approximately 11 kilometres and provides surfaced and soft trails for runners. The main route, along the main road through the centre, climbs gradually towards the Castleknock end, while the roads include some more severe hills.
The 707 hectare site contains not only some of the best green space in Dublin, but also some of the capital's most popular tourist attractions, including Dublin Zoo. Aras on Uachtarain, the home of the Irish president, is also located within the park.
Marlay, Tymon and the south Dublin parks
Marlay and Tymon parks are best, but by no means the only choices in the south of the city. Dodder Valley and Bushy Park in Rathfarnham are additional popular options.
The Dublin Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to Marlay, a large, well-kept walled park in Rathfranham. Paved paths run around the perimeter, with soft trails through the central wooded area. The flat, 1 kilometre path around the central grass area (behind Marlay Manor) is perfect for workouts, thought the area can get very busy at the weekend. There is a walled-garden, a large playground, a cafe, toilets, a par-3 golf course, playing fields and other facilities and attractions. The park closes at dusk.
Tymon Park is less cultivated than Marlay, but has an equally good variety of running options, with large grass areas, paved paths, and wooded trails throughout the area, which includes areas at both sides of the M50, linked by footbridges.
The Dublin Mountains are an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. The area around Kilmashogue and Three Rocks is suitable for running, road cycling, hiking and mountain biking. A challenging run may include a loop from Marlay park via Kilmashogue Lane, up the forest access road, which forms part of the Wicklow Way, and back down via Three Rocks/Ticknock and Kellystown Lane past Taylor's Pub. Beware, it is a mountain, and if the hills don't take your breath away, the views of the city and sea below will.
Sandymount Strand and the south Dublin coast
Sandymount Strand, Sandymount Promanade and the rest of the coast along the south of Dublin Bay, is another great place to run. The hard sand along the strand is perfect for running, and the promanade above provides additional variety.
St Anne's Park and Dollymount Strand
St Anne's Park is one of the best places to run north of the River Liffey. Located in the Clontarf/Raheny area, St Anne's overlooks the sea, and a run along the woodland paths within the park can be linked with a trot along Dollymount Strand, the North Dublin seafront and the relative wilderness of North Bull Island.
St Anne's is also a good place for other activities, with 35 playing pitches, a par-3 golf course, 4 Boules courts, 18 hard-surfaced tennis courts, and a cricket crease. There are playgrounds, a rose garden, and many other attractions to entertain all the family. A Farmers's Market is held each Saturday in the courtyard of the Red Stables.
ParkRun organises weekly 5km runs in Marlay, Tymon and St Anne's parks.