A day at the Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park is one of the biggest enclosed parks in any European cities. It is actually so big, that you feel that you are not in the park, but just got out of the city and wondering around in the countryside. And the most amazing is that you are actually in the city and not far from the centre at all, so we took this trip just on foot and it didn’t take us too much time at all.

Our first stop was The Church of the Sacred Heart Arbour Hill, which was just on our way and so we walked into the garden of the church where lies the military cemetery which is the last resting place of 14 of the executed leaders of the Rising of 1916. There was a big monument with the Declaration of Independence on the wall and with Irish flag above. 

After some more walking, we reached the Phoenix park and headed to the Wellington Testimonial which was huge. It was designed by Robert Smirke as a testimonial to Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, who was born in Dublin. Duke of Wellington was one of  England’s greatest military leaders, who served as a Prime Minister and who became especially famous fro his victory over Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo in 1815. Duke Wellington was also called the Iron Duke. The monument was completed in 1861 and it is the tallest obelisk in Europe, over 62 meters tall.

It has four bronze plaques which are made from the cannons, captured at Waterloo and on three of them are the pictures connected with his battles and the fourth has an inscription on it. The monument is situated on the huge green lawn square and it looks imposing.

The Phonix Park was established in 1662 by Duke of Ormond, on behalf of the king Charles II. It was founded as the Royal Deer Park and for my big surprise, the deer are living there even today. And not just some deer, but there are big herds of deer walking around and not too much afraid of people who are trying to photograph them here and there. Probably the deer are quite used to be models and if you really go too close to them the head of the herd just started moving and all the others follow quite soon, but if you walk around and take some time, they will come back again or you will see just another hers walking by.

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The Papal Cross was erected for the visit of the Pope John Paul the Second in 1979. It is a simple white cross on the small hill, but it looks great and powerful. Maybe because it is standing alone on the hill and there’s a big emptiness around it. Somehow it feels scary, maybe because the weather turned so gray and dark when we reached there, the sun went off and the sky was quickly covered with dark and threatening clouds. When the Pope visited Dublin, he gave an open-air ceremony for more than 1.25 million people and actually it’s very difficult for me to imagine so many people standing there and waiting for the Pope to speak. But it was a very important event in Ireland and so after that visit, John Paul became one of the most popular baby boys’ names in Ireland and stayed in a high position for quite a long time. We have also one in our family 🙂

Our most important aim of the day was, of course, visiting the zoo. It was funny that we both hadn’t done it for a long time, what happens of course if you don’t have small children any more. But in spite of the lack of small children, we decided to be children ourselves and so we enjoyed every single second of the next part of the day. Dublin Zoo is quite an old one, founded already in 1831 and today it is a very nice and modern place to spend the whole day and even then you will be short of time. It’s a very spacious zoo, where the animals have good conditions and a lot of free space to feel themselves like home. The Zoo is divided into different areas with special names.
The World of Primates

Asian Forests

African Savanna

My favourite  – the Elephant Baby.

The elephant Baby was 6 days old and was born on the 17th of July, but already on his feet. His mother’s name is Yasmin. And now I read, that in August another elephant calf Ashoka was born and on the 17th of September the third one, a girl, just only 68 kgs heavy

Birds

The peacock was wondering around just on its own, swaggering its tail ahead everyone who had time to admire it.

And all other kinds of other creatures:

And one of the best parts were all these amazing plants, so you almost felt yourself walking around in a jungle.

To end the day perfectly we finished in in the Church. So not any kind of influences from the Papal Cross this time. The Church is a big bar/restaurant that is located in the centre of Dublin and established in a former St. Mary’s church. The real church was closed in 1964 and the building remained empty until 1997 when it was purchased by John Keating who renovated it and opened a bar there in 2005. The renovated building was noticed by Dublin City Neighbourhood Awards and in 2006 it won the first price in the category of Best Old Buildings. In 2007 the building went over to the new owners and was renamed “The Church Bar-Restaurant”.
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So before heading back home we had some ciders at the Church. For me, it was really surprising that such a catholic state as Ireland seemed to me has rebuilt not only this church for quite an unusual purpose but also many others. One of our neighborhood churches had been a night club for some time and in one of them, the Tourist Information Office is located. I think it’s a great idea to renovate these old buildings instead to let them just stand abandoned. In spite that the Church is more like a tourist place and for that reason very expensive, it was a nice experience anyway and I cannot deny that I was a tourist 🙂

 

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