Ireland day 0206. Friday 22 April 2022- PapalCross

Ireland day 0206. Friday 22 April 2022- PapalCross
Today’s summary Leisurely morning then took the DART into Dublin.   Late brunch in Fegan’s café then walked on to Phoenix Park for a semi-perimeter walk before ending up at the Papal Cross
Today’s weather Dry and bright.  Sun in morning and late afternoon but cloud around lunchtime.   Moderate to strong north easterly wind.   About 13C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Papal Cross Phoenix Park walk

A couple of weeks ago, I had walked part of the way round the eastern half of Dublin’s Phoenix Park and had resolved to come back soon and finish the circuit off, following the western perimeter of the park to close the loop.   Today, when we got up, the sun was shining and it looked like a nice day outside.   So it would be a good day to try and deal with the unfinished business of Phoenix Park.

But sometimes the best of intentions don’t quite work out as you hope and today was one of those days.   Our decision to get going early and make the most of the sparkling morning sunshine didn’t seem to translate into action.   By the time we had fitted in an essential second cup of tea, had breakfast, and finished off the crime novel I was reading, it was already almost noon.   Then we had a longish wait for a DART train at Malahide station and once we did actually get going, it seemed to stop at every lamp-post and took an absolute age to get in to Dublin.

Anyway we did eventually make it to Dublin but by then it was early afternoon and our resolve to get going quickly and complete a speedy circuit of the park had completely evaporated.   So we gave in to the inevitable and headed over to our favourite Dublin café – Fegan’s – for an invigorating cup of coffee before we set off on our hike.   Unfortunately the coffee turned into a full-blown brunch complete with soup, sausage rolls, and cake.   So it was already half past two by the time we staggered out – but nevertheless we picked ourselves up, and determinedly made our way towards Phoenix Park.   But not before allowing ourselves to be distracted en route by the Jameson distillery where we couldn’t resist the temptation to take a quick peek inside (more about that to follow in a later blog).

So – we did eventually make it to the park but really we had given up all hope of completing the whole circuit in any sort of reasonable time.   So we did a quick bit of on-the-fly re-planning and elected to repeat part of my “eastern perimeter” walk from a couple of weeks ago, then head over to the north side of the park to admire the massive Papal Cross on Fifteen Acres.

There was a cloudy period that lasted until late afternoon and with the north easterly wind definitely making itself felt, it was actually quite chilly at the start of our walk.   Especially for those of us (i.e. me) who have decided that shorts must be worn at all times now that we are well into April.   Nevertheless, the park was looking brilliant, just like the last time I’d been there, and almost luminously iridescent as the fresh green leaves burst apace from the trees and lawns.   Absolutely stunning – better than almost any park I’ve ever visited, anywhere, in fact.   So we scooted round the east side, keeping close to the wall, then about halfway along the wall, we struck off to the north, passing the impressive residence of the US Ambassador, complete with magnificent ha-ha, and making a bee-line to the Papal Cross, just off Chesterfield Avenue.

I’m not a religious person, and try to avoid getting involved in discussions about religion because you are bound to offend someone.  But nevertheless, even in a purely secular sense you can’t help being impressed by the massive size – and simplicity – of the cross itself.  It’s on a slight hillock and from up there you get a magnificent vista over the park and the rooftops of Dublin and beyond to the Wicklow Mountains.

Two Popes have addressed the masses from up here.   The first, John Paul II in 1979, attracted a gathering of well over a million.   The second, Francis in 2018, addressed 150,000.   Still a massive turnout by any measure but I couldn’t stop myself noting how the numbers of followers seemed to have declined in the intervening 40 years.   I wondered if this might also be a reflection of the radical changes that had happened in Irish society, politics and church in the same period.

We lingered for a few minutes to admire the view – especially as by now the sun had come out and it wasn’t quite as cold – then headed on down to Heuston station for the Luas tram to Connolly and the train back to Malahide.   So my ambition to walk right round the park remains unfulfilled – but there’s plenty more time yet and we did have a very rewarding day out nevertheless.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

After brunch, in Phoenix Park with the Wellington Testimonial towering obeliskly in the background Horse Chestnuts in Ireland seem remarkably healthy.   It looks like the Bleeding Canker and other diseases which are afflicting their brethren in the UK haven’t made it over here yet.   Long may it last.
The Deerfield Residence in Phoenix Park.   It was built in 1776 for Sir John Blaquiere and from then until 1922, it was the residence of the Chief Secretary of Ireland (effectively the representative of the British Prime Minister in Ireland before independence).   Winston Churchill actually spent some of his childhood here.   After independence it became the US Ambassador’s residence and has hosted notable guests including JF Kennedy and Bill Clinton.   It was christened “Deerfield” by a US ambassador’s wife in the 1970s on account of the large number of fallow deer in Phoenix Park The Papal Cross.   It’s 35m / 115ft tall and made of steel.   It’s on the edge of the part of the park known as “Fifteen Acres”.   It was erected in 1979 for the visit of John Paul II on 29 September.   He addressed a congregation of 1.25 million (more than the entire population of Dublin) from the base of the cross.   Apparently there was a baby boom at the end of June 1980 – nine months after his address.   Pope Francis also made an address from the same point in 2018 albeit to a smaller crowd of about 150,000
Looking across Chesterfield Avenue to Áras an Uachtaráin, nowadays the residence of the President of Ireland This short and stumpy – but sturdy looking – tree near the exit from Phoenix Park looked suspiciously like a Weirwood Tree from Game of Thrones. I didn’t manage to find out what species it actually was, but it wasn’t weeping blood today
Val overlooking Khyber Road, which runs from the south of the park to the north.   Taken from just outside the Magazine Fort
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 12032 m
Max elevation: 49 m
Min elevation: 2 m
Total climbing: 280 m
Total descent: -282 m
Total time: 03:03:49
Download file: Papal Cross Walk corrected.gpx

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