I could see grey sky through the kitchen window earlier this morning and tiny rain drops occasionally sticking to its outside surface on this 23rd day of June 2012. It was pleasantly warm though, so the question was: should I, or should I not, head locally to Dublin’s Phoenix Park to take in some walking exercise?
Someone once said, and rightly so, you need to carry the weather in your head. Decision made. Backpack, drinking water, brolly and camera gathered up and I was on my way.
There are several very pleasant main walking routes in the Phoenix Park (i.e. hard surfaced). I would name them as follows:
- Oldtown Wood
- Furry Glen
- Khyber Stream
- Peoples Gardens
- Áras an Uachtaráin
- Ashtown Castle
My choice for this morning was the Oldtown Wood route.
Access to the Oldtown Wood walking route can be gained from Chesterfield Avenue proper via the Furze Road, or from the Mountjoy Roundabout at the Castleknock end of Chesterfield Avenue or from the other end of the Furze Road at the cross-roads on Knockmaroon Road. I approached from the Mountjoy Roundabout and parked my car a short distance in, along the Ordnance Road.
I was amazed to see so many cars parked along both sides of Ordnance Road and realised that there must be something in particular going on in the vicinity, to draw such a volume of people.
When I stepped out of the car I could hear music playing and on looking in the direction of the Furze Road, I could see that Marquee Tents had been erected and that some large Commercial Motor Vehicles were lined up adjacent to the Marquees.
I set off walking, knowing that the length of the Furze Road was part of the route and that I would soon discover what the local gathering was all about.
At the Knockmaroon cross-roads, as I rounded the corner which took me from Ordnance Road on to the Furze Road, I could see rows of cars extending all the way up to the traffic bollards, which normally cordon off the centre section of the road. Streams of people were heading towards the Marquee area. I could see the side of a large articulated trailer which had been maneuvered transversely across the road. The music seemed to be emanating from the trailer.
On my way to the first set of traffic bollards I passed a number of mini buses with registrations plates from Limerick, Cork and Kerry; so this gathering had representation from around the country. I began to note that most of the people passing me, heading towards the music area, seemed to be of Filipino and Indian origin.
Well, when I rounded the trailer I was amazed. Here I was, to the strains of some nice background music, standing among a throng of mainly Filipino people. It was as if I was in down town Manila. I had stumbled upon what I believe was a Filipino music festival. It was so lovely to see so many happy smiling faces, as people were obviously really enjoying their day out.
The section of the Furze Road allocated to the gathering was lined on both sides by a mixture of Marquee Food Stalls, local Business Stalls and Private Tents. The aroma of the freshly cooked food simply smothered ones senses. It was an amazing site to behold.
I thought, how very nice to see this type of cultural enrichment of our society taking place and indeed, what better venue for some of it to occur than within the lovely surroundings of our centuries old Phoenix Park.
One thing which stood out for me was the politeness of the Filipino people whom I encountered in the park and indeed how well behaved their children were.
Continuing on my walk and on reaching Chesterfield Avenue, I headed straight to the white line at the centre of the road and walked along it. One of the many positive things which the OPW (Office of Public Works) the body charged with management of Dublin’s Phoenix Park did, in this the 350th anniversary year for the park, was to close off a major section of Chesterfield Avenue to through traffic at weekends. Doing this, has more easily and safety facilitated gatherings, like the one I have just mentioned and also gives park users a sense, that this great heritage amenity is really for the people and not just another traffic rat run, to and from the city.
If you factor in my two short stops the Oldtown Wood walk, at an easy pace, took me 37 minutes to complete. Yet another walk to be added to the hundreds of walks which I have already taken, within this most historic and most beautiful city parkland.
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