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touch the bird
is an enthusiast's book."
RTÉ's Today with Pat Kenny
Brendan Nolan provides a fascinating read."
a few special occasions, Phoenix Park has been host to large congregations
of people gathered together for common purpose.
In former centuries, the greatest draw was the frequent displays of military
prowess held in the park. These would bring out an enthusiastic gathering,
often accompanied by all sorts of merchants and hawkers — many of
them there to slake the thirst of the crowd.
Following the decline of the appeal of noisy military bands and whiskey
tents of earlier times, religious ceremony, motor races and pop concerts
have been the biggest attractions for crowds in Phoenix Park.
The largest number of people yet recorded on the Fifteen Acres was in
September 1979 when an estimated one-third of the Irish population attended
a mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II on an altar beneath where the papal
cross now towers above all.
Military Reviews, Fenians and Pioneers
In earlier times, in 1780, two hundred years before the papal mass was
celebrated, some 100,000 people attended to see the Irish Volunteers (Province
of Leinster) review under their flag of “Loyal and Determined”.
In August 1871 police charged at a Fenian amnesty meeting and the ensuing
furore in the Westminster parliament over police methods forced recognition
of the right to hold public meetings without attack by the police.
The Eucharistic Congress The thirty-first Eucharistic Congress, held on 23 June 1932,
saw almost half a million people witness Papal Legate Cardinal Lorenzo
Lauri celebrate mass in the park. Scouts from the newly formed Catholic
Boy Scouts of Ireland acted as guards at the high altar in the park.
In 1994, celebration of another kind was offered to the Irish soccer team
under Jack Charlton’s management when they were welcomed home on
the Fifteen Acres from the World Cup by hundreds of thousands of people.
Before they arrived on the reviewing stand, the team was welcomed to Áras
an Uachtaráin by President Mary Robinson, and it was difficult
to believe in the blazing sunshine that the team had in fact been knocked
out of the tournament.
On 18 June 2002, the World Cup national soccer team, by now under manager
Mick McCarthy, the former Captain Fantastic, also had a homecoming in
Phoenix Park, this time in front of the park’s soccer pavilions.
More than 100,000 people massed on the soccer pitches to cheer the team.
Once more, the team had been knocked out of the World Cup, this time on
penalties; but the crowds were just happy that they were there at all,
and cheered mightily when the players landed on the stage.
in the Park
Music has always played a role in the life of Phoenix Park, from the trumpeters
accompanying the military reviews of centuries past, right up to the concerts
— pop, rock, classical and traditional — now held frequently
in the summertime.
18 August 2002, the first free pop concert took place heralding a new
era of music in Phoenix Park itself. The venue was the Whitefields part
of the park, and not on the Fifteen Acres, as at first envisaged.
year, 2002, as it happened, motor racing did not go ahead in the park
because of a lack of funding available to the organisers for the event,
and because of their intention to market the 2003 centenary of speed trials
in Phoenix Park in a prominent manner.
An August 9 Robbie Williams show was the first commercial concert to be
allowed in the public park. More than 500 gardaí and a drug unit
patrolled the open-air pop concert, with some 135,000 ticket-buyers in
attendance. Gates opened at 1pm and warm-up acts performed from 3pm with
Williams on stage at 8.30 pm for a two-hour set.
more detail read
The comprehensive book on Dublin's own national park.
of Phoenix Park a history and guidebook are a welcome addition
to your corporate or conference goodybags.
Nolan has reported on Phoenix Park as a freelance journalist for several
decades and was a professional observer at many of the events of the late
20th century related herein.
He was born in Chapelizod
in a house beside the churchyard of Le Fanu and counted Phoenix Park as
his personal rambling ground through his growing years and beyond.
click to order your copy for
Service for Pope John Paul II
On a chilly evening on 8 April 2005, fewer
than 10,000 people gathered at a funeral mass for the late Pontiff
who had died in Rome on April 2, aged eighty-four, after a lingering
illness. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD and several government ministers
were among the crowd.
a fabulous book. It should be in all the schools."
West Dublin Access Radio