Phoenix Park

“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.

Phoenix Park 2

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;<img

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.

MGM lion

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;

Unlocking history on the banks of the royal canal

Last week I busted out of the 2 km Lockdown restriction to walk alongside my local canal. It was nice to absorb the different and peaceful scenery. The Royal Canal flows from the River Liffey in Dublin to Longford in Ireland. In times past, the canals and river corridors of Ireland were traversed by pirates, saints, fishermen, pilgrims and soldiers. St Brendan the Navigator and raiding Viking parties utilised them too. The Lock Keeper’s of the canals have seen it all.


Irish waterways are a great way to explore Ireland. They provide a sense of history, peace and absolution, and are host to a wealth of wildlife in birds, plants and animals.

A railway line runs parallel to the Royal canal close to my home. It’s helped grow the economy of the country. A 20 minute train ride takes me into Dublin city center.

It was a controversial undertaking and constructed after the x-director of The Grand Canal Company stormed out of his board meeting saying he was going to construct another canal. It wasn’t properly surveyed and ran into enormous financial difficulties. It was completed using public funds.

I wonder if this sculptured Lock Keeper in Ashtown knows the formula to open up our coronavirus Lock down?


Water and lock keepers remove barriers. This open us to our history and ancestors. My friend Godfrey an Irish travel guide said:

“Back in the 1800’s William Rowan Hamilton a Professor of Mathematics worked out the Quantum Theorem formulas on a piece of stone from the Broom Bridge on the Royal Canal. His wife had to wait to finish their romantic walk on a bench. She might have been bored but her husband went down in history as the Father of Algebra.”

Here’s the bridge;


A plaque reads:

Here as he walked by
on the 16th of October 1843
Sir William Rowan Hamilton
in a flash of genius discovered
the fundamental formula for
quaternion multiplication
i² = j² = k² = ijk = −1
& cut it on a stone of this bridge.

My friend Anne reminded me of “The Auld Triangle” Irish folk song about an Irishman in prison who misses his girl. It gives a nod to the banks of the Royal Canal. The link is below;

It takes emotional courage to follow the call to be still or to slow down during this pandemic. To see the unseen and hear the unheard. I love how it’s brought me face to face with local history.

This is blog 140. It lines up with (Math 140), the study of Math Algebra and the Auld Isosceles Triangle which has an angle that measures 140°.

‘In This Together’ campaign launch

Seven weeks into the Covid-19 emergency and the government of Ireland launched a well-being campaign today to help us adapt to the new reality. We’ve made huge progress in suppressing the virus due to people following the public health guidelines and displaying an Irish spirit of resilience and selflessness.

The government here have shown good team-work in its handling of the pandemic. Please utilize the resources provided. They will help us get through this together.

Read more coverage here:

The Plague

One of my friend’s has just finished reading The Plague by Albert Camus. Its the story of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran.

Another friend suggested I look like I’m about to go into a fighting scene of Game of Thrones. The series is filmed around Ballintoy Harbor close to where the picture above and below were taken.

It got me thinking about time, place, and courage. A lot of us are helping save lives by just obeying the stay home orders. And practicing solitude – (see previous post on Solitude and Leadership). It feels strange to be acting heroically or for the greater good, by just staying home. Yet that is what is saving lives.

I have sworn an oath of solitude until the pestilence is purged from the lands. How about you?

What are you learning about yourself in this season of self-isolation?

There’s wonderful sand dunes behind me in the picture below. Natural coastal defenses for Viking raids of the past. If they caught me they’d probably pull the silver fillings right out of my mouth 😊


Coronavirus Lockdown 2020 – Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.

Happiness is an inside job

“I am responsible for my own happiness. The world doesn’t owe it to me. My husband doesn’t owe it to me, and my parents don’t either. I have to stop feeling sorry for myself and start doing what makes me happy to be ALIVE.”

Appreciating this quote today and feeling deep gratitude for the simple wisdom within the AA and Alanon 12 steps to recovery. Pressing into what it looks like to truly take responsibility for my own well-being and happiness.

One source of unexpected happiness for me during the StayatHome Covid 19 Lockdown has been learning about Turkish history and culture from my friend Yusuf who was born and raised in Turkey. Real Turkish coffee (brewing on cooker in picture above) is good. The colorful dish below is homemade Ispanak Begendi.

Thanks for sharing your Turkish heritage and culture !

I’d love to know what sources of happiness are popping up for you during the Lockdown!

Turkey food

Visualizing the history of Pandemics

Throughout history as humans spread around the world infectious diseases have been a constant companion. The visual capitalist link below shows some of history’s most deadly pandemics from the Antonine Plague to COVID-19.

It’s an excellent graph of bad things.

There are spiritual lessons behind everything. Christine Paintner in Galway, Ireland draws one for us during this current pandemic.

“Capitalism is hard at work, even during the pandemic, trying to convince us that being productive is still the best way to move through life, even when life is coming apart at the seams. The truth is busyness means we deny what we are really feeling and experiencing. Maybe one small grace of this time is that we recognize how much we have been caught up in the violence of overdoing and can finally make space for the grief and anything else we have suppressed and avoided. Be extraordinarily gentle with yourself. Allowing the true experience of these days through (rather than further exhausting and traumatizing yourself) is far richer and more powerful than trying to achieve any life goals.”

Visualizing the History of Pandemics

Former Presidential Advisor: Leadership During Crisis

I’m so grateful for my friends Jim and Jan who consistently bring insight on a wide variety of Leadership styles. Thanks to them we can learn from the very best in Leadership. The link below is a timely discussion they had with an expert on pandemics – Lisa Monaco.

Lisa served as the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to President Barack Obama from 2013-2017. In this role, she coordinated the federal government’s crisis management and response to cyberattacks, pandemics, and terrorist threats. She also spent 15 years at the Department of Justice, serving as a career federal prosecutor, and in senior management positions including at the FBI. It was there where she was Chief of Staff to the Director, and helped lead the FBI’s post-9/11 transformation. Lisa discusses how to lead during a crisis, and ways to create a readiness plan for potential threats; pandemic or otherwise.

Listen here and please share with your friends and colleagues !

The great INdoors

This is the week the whole world was ordered to stay indoors. I have not experienced anything quite like it, EVER, in my lifetime. Have you?

As I slow down, do my social distancing and hand washing, I become more aware. A deeper appreciate for nature kicks in. My walking is restricted to within 2 km from home. Warnings of fines help me obey. Simple daffodils in a village park or protruding buds in a Church graveyard take on more meaning. The chorus of birdsong is loud and lovely.

In what ways might this challenging coronavirus season be offering us new gifts, invitations and perspectives?



A time to be slow

This is the time to be slow
Lie low to the wall
Till the bitter weather passes,

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from yourself
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light

If you remain generous
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet again
On fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning


St. Patrick’s Legacy, Irish influence and scholarship

Patrick is the best remembered Christian missionary to Ireland. His name has come to represent the many unknown clerics who worked in Ireland before and after him. The influence of the Irish missionaries, carriers of classical learning and disseminators of theological and philosophical thought cannot be overemphasized. Vast collections of Irish manuscripts are to be found in all the great libraries across Europe. I brought a theologian friend to see the amazing Book of Kells at Trinity University recently. He wasn’t disappointed.


This Church below is the most ancient ecclesiastical site in Ireland. St. Patrick built the first Christian Church in this land right here in 432 A.D. This is the cradle of Irish Christianity. The Church has continued to worship God through the centuries, holding fast to the Faith which Patrick taught.


Below is a picture of friends and visitors from America outside St. Patrick’s first Church in Saul County Down;


This prayer was on a wall inside the Church:

Go forth, traveller, in the Name which is above every name: Be of good courage: Hold fast that which is good. Repay to no man evil for evil; Strengthen the faint-hearted: Support the weak; Help the afflicted: Honour all men: Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day !