The land used for the park was given to the city by the Earl of Pembroke whose family name was Herbert. In 1907, the World Fair known as the Irish International Exhibition was held in Ballsbridge. When the structures had been dismantled, the site was developed as the current public park, with the bandstand and pond being the only remaining structures from the time. It is now maintained by Dublin City Council. The former site of the Johnston, Mooney & O'Brien bakery bordered the park and when that site was redeveloped as the Herbert Park Hotel, a new entrance was opened at the easternmost end of the park.
The park is thirty-two acres in size and is in two halves, divided by a road, also called Herbert Park. A full circuit of the park's perimeter is almost exactly one mile, a fact used by runners and walkers to measure their progress. The larger half, on the south side of the road, is bounded by the River Dodder, houses, and includes a number of soccer pitches, formal gardens, and a large duck pond. The northern half is home to a public children's playground, a number of tennis courts, and the bowling green of Herbert Park Bowling Club.
The park's pond has proven to be an excellent location for breeding of carp. In February 2006 the pond was nearly completely emptied in order for cleaning to take place. The carp were removed to alternative locations. These carp were up to 2 feet (0.61 m) in length. In spring 2009, the pond was re-stocked.
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