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Phoenix Park by Ann Treacy
February 28, 2010, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Dublin

1. On Saturday we went to Phoenix Park – to see Áras an Uachtaráin (the President’s house). Our plan was to leave early and get our tickets earlier – but no go. We didn’t leave early and of course we didn’t really know where to get the tickets once we got to Phoenix Park. We’re not really as organized in real life as we may appear on the blog – but we got there early enough to get the ticket somehow.

The Phoenix Park is a huge park. We rarely go there because it’s really the opposite side of Dublin – but I think it’s the largest park in Europe – definitely the largest walled park. There’s 6 miles of fencing surrounding the park. It was created as a hunting park in the 1600’s (going off memory now, not Wikipedia so don’t go making any bar bets on the following but…). So the British brought over a herd of deer – in fact you can still see the herd in the park. We only saw one, big deer, but we have seen the herd in the past.

1. We went past the Wellington Monument and the Cross, which was built when the Pope came to visit in 1979 (again making up that date). Patrick must have told us a million times that he was there for the Pope’s visit. We walked past soccer fields, polo fields, cricket grounds, and the zoo. We went up to the Ashtown Castle. (That’s where we were able to get the tickets for the tour of Áras an Uachtaráin.)

Ashtown Castle has a nice café and we were starving. We went into the interpretive area; they started the movie just for us. We walked through the walled garden, played in the playground and eventually got the bus to the President’s house.

Sadly we couldn’t take pictures in the house – but we did get a picture outside. The house is beautiful, but I have to say the view of the Dublin Mountains is amazing. The tour guide was great. She repeated some of the stories we heard last weekend in the government buildings – but her delivery was much better!

I remembered the story of the fireplaces (in the house and government building). They were designed by Pietro Bossi. He found a way to color marble. On his deathbed his eldest son hoped for the secret to dying the marble – and Bossi just said, “there’s only one God and there’s only one Bossi.”

Also they had a bowl created from wood found at the Battle of the Boyne – at the time of the Battle. Apparently one bowl went to the President and one to Ian Paisley – in a peacemaking/peace-appreciating effort. I actually could rattle off a few more tidbits except that I suspect that without pictures the stories lose something.

One last tidbit Phoenix Park isn’t named after the phoenix rising, it’s actually an English corruption of the Irish Fhionn-Uisce, which means clear water. There’s lots of clear water in the park.

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