Tag Archives: Phoenix Park

Bloom in the Park: Irish Crafts and Dutch Bicycles

7 May

a touristy Ireland poster

When we first arrived in Dublin, we used to browse through tourist shops a lot. Learning what the tourism industry sees as the country’s unique selling points, is a good way of getting your bearings in a foreign country.

Being Dutch, we hardly ever bought anything, but we did fall in love with Ireland instantly. Not because of those posters with rolling green hills, that give the impression you can bump into Gandalf the Grey here at any given moment.

Gandalf the Grey

No – we fell in love with Ireland because of the country’s attention to its traditional crafts. Where Dutch tourist shops are stacked with plastic windmills made in China, Irish tourist shops reserve the prime spots for hand knit Aran scarves, woodworked gardening instruments, or relish from Ballymaloe.

As we spent more time in Ireland, we learned the love for traditional crafts isn’t confined to tourist shops either. At the Electric Picnic music festival last year, we were surprised to find woodcutting workshops, embroidery classes and slow food sit-ins – a welcome change to dancing to loud rock music amidst a lager-fuelled crowd of hipsters.

And now, the traditional crafts are coming to Dublin, with ‘Bloom in the Park’; a festival that brings the best of Irish horticulture and food.

This Friday, we were at Bloom in the Park’s opening photo shoot. Ceramist Colm de Rís, garden designer Jane McCorkell, broadcaster Ella McSweeney, and Bord Bia show manager Gary Graham were riding matte green Dutch bicycles, with crates overflowing with food and flowers.

broadcaster Ella McSweeney and elves in the Phoenix Park

Little girls were dancing around them, dressed like elves – their high laughs accompanying the rustle of the leaves in Phoenix Park’s ancient trees. In a blur, the bicycles seemed to transform to horses, and the little girls seemed to float around them, arms waving and wings flapping.

It may have been our imagination, but for a moment, in the background, we thought we saw a tall man with a grey beard and pointed hat standing among the trees – almost as if Gandalf had also turned up for the  photo shoot.

(l-r) Colm de Rís, Ceramicist representing Crafts Council of Ireland clients, Jane McCorkell, 2010 Bloom Garden Design Winner, Ella McSweeney, Broadcaster and MC of the Chef’s Summer Kitchen at Bloom and Gary Graham, Bord Bia Show Manager

Bord Bia’s Bloom which takes place over the June Bank Holiday Weekend for five days from Thursday June 2nd to Monday June 6th

Cycling in Phoenix Park

3 Nov

During our first week in Ireland, in September last year, we had been told Dublin gets long, sunny autumns, as recompense for summers seemingly skipped. And indeed: a protracted period of falling leaves and amber lit streets has lasted until, well, today. It seems Halloween has finally opened the door for winter to come in. On the streets, the smell of smoke from peat fire stoves pervades more than ever. We sit indoors as much as we can.

But because this weekend we have visitors from the Netherlands, we are forced to fight off the urge to huddle around the table for a game of ganzenbord or mens erger je niet. They can do that back home, where weather is worse, our visitors tell us. They want to experience the real Dublin, and they are not convinced by our argument it doesn’t get more local than a board game in a Portobello basement apartment.

And so we find ourselves cycling into Phoenix Park – where even Pat McQuaid’s bike rental is silent. We cycle up the deserted cycle path, soon turning left to wheel through the large green fields where on summer days we saw people play bicycle polo. The scattered showers have temporarily stopped, and the sun regains some of the strength it had lost. Past the Papal Cross, we stop, look back, and take these shots. We admit it: we’re happy our visitors persisted.