“I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.”
-from Budgen’s James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses
I entered Phoenix Park on foot through the historic Castleknock gate, this week. One of Ireland’s favorite and most famous local attractions, the park was founded in 1662 by the Duke of Ormond James Chester on behalf of King Charles II. It’s home to the President of Ireland – who lives in Aras An Uachtarain and the base for An Garda Siochana HQ and Dublin Zoo.
Originally a royal hunting Park in the 1660s and opened to the public in 1747. It has a huge amount of history behind it and is only a mile and a half from O’Connell Street. Here’s a link and 5 interesting facts;
1. It’s the largest enclosed park in any capital city in Europe. At 1,752 acres, it’s five times bigger than London’s Hyde Park.
2. MGM Lion – Legend has it that Ireland’s first Hollywood star, Cairbhe the lion was born in the park before he went on to become the logo for MGM film studios and was renamed Leo.
3. Winston Churchill lived in the park between the ages of two and six in the Vice Regal Lodge. He said his “first coherent memory” was in Phoenix Park.
4. On May 6, 1882 fatal stabbings occurred. The British chief secretary of Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and his under secretary, T.H. Burke.
5. GUBU – (‘grotesque’, ‘unbelievable’, ‘bizarre’ and ‘unprecedented’). An expression peculiar to Ireland. It was derived from Charlie Haughey’s attempts to sum up his shock in the wake of the capture of double-killer Malcolm MacArthur in the home of the Attorney General. On 22 July 1982, a nurse named Bridie Gargan (aged 27) had been sunbathing in the Phoenix Park during her time off work. MacArthur, intending to steal her car, bludgeoned her with a hammer. In the ensuing confusion, MacArthur drove off, leaving the dying Gargan on the back seat.
My 141 blog runs parallel to the 141-year-old Dublin bridge that played a part in the 1916 Rising. You can read more here;