What do Irish Marathon Runners and Irish Artists have in common?
Well, apart from the fact that a Marathon Runner can be an Artist and an Artist can be a Marathon Runner they do have something else in common; from time to time, they use Dublin’s iconic Phoenix Park.
As it happens, I use Phoenix Park too. As often as I can I avail of its myriad of nature cloaked walking trails in my attempts to maintain muscle mass.
So, on Sunday 16th November 2012, having decided that Phoenix Park’s Ashtown Demesne would be the pleasant venue for my walking exercise and being completely oblivious to the fact that the New York Marathon was in town, I headed to the park.
You guessed it. By the time I got through the Castleknock Gates of the park I was very much aware that the New York Marathon had definitely come to town, as the athletes were gathered and flexing their muscles on Chesterfield Avenue, just beyond the Mountjoy Roundabout. It was the usual hubbub scene typical of such events; yellow jacketed Stewarts, Gardaí and Park Rangers all mobilised to control and direct the flow. There was quite a buzz about the place.
As a result, my diverted journey to Ashtown Demesne took a little longer than usual, but I didn’t mind. Hurricane Sandy had put the kibosh on the plans so many Irish runners had to participate in the real New York Marathon, so who was I to feel discommoded by their alternative arrangements.
My being delayed was in a good cause because it facilitated: Wayne Reid, Runner No 6917 coming in first with a time of: 02:43:48, Niall Lynch, Runner No 6882 coming in second with a time of: 02:48:59 and Joseph Wright, Runner No 6962 coming in third with a time of: 02:50:55. It also facilitated Karen Lavelle, Runner No 6810, Sherry Johnston, Runner No 6804 and Olwyn Dunne, Runner No 6766 coming in 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the women’s section, in just over three hours each. Well done to all participants.
So if they were the Athletes, what then of the Artists?
Having eventually reached Ashtown Demesne and having completed my exercise, which had taken me on a very pleasant walking trail around the periphery of the Demesne, I called to the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre. I had been searching for literature on flora of the park and reckoned what better place to begin my quest. I quickly obtained what I had been looking for and was just about to leave, when I noticed some activity in the exhibition area.
On further investigation, I was delighted to discover an artistic treasure trove of sixty magnificent mounted and framed line drawings of the individual iconic Lodges, Monuments and Scenes from Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
I had not previously seen such a comprehensive collection of beautiful hand crafted art work related to the park. I thought, how lovely it would be for every Irish person living abroad to have one of these beautiful reminders of home to adorn the place which by choice, or by necessity, they presently call home.
Keen to discover the background to the project I spoke with Ms Sheelagh Duff, the Artist whose pen had given form to these lovely images. Sheelagh told me that it had taken her two years to complete the work. While congratulating Sheelagh on her artistry I found myself thinking, what a lovely legacy has been created for both present and future generations to enjoy.
Perhaps it may have something to do with my inherent love for Dublin’s Phoenix Park, but I instinctively feel that Sheelagh’s Phoenix Park art pieces would make lovely gifts for our Irish Diaspora.
When Sheelagh told me that she did not have any web presence I thought it a shame that her excellent work did not have a broader showcase and offered to introduce her on the internet, hence this article.
Since this article was first written, in late 2012, I have put together the following facility for showcasing some of Sheelagh’s work, enjoy: