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I’ve mentioned before that my parents liked to bring us places so that we didn’t get too much cabin fever. One of the regular places we’d visit was the Phoenix Park. It wasn’t far from where we lived in Dublin so we became regular visitors. It’s the largest public park in Europe, or so I’ve been told. Its home to the Irish President, Dublin Zoo, numerous Fallow Deer and an obelisk called the Wellington Monument. Or the Money Mount since we found it hard to pronounce Monument as a child. This nickname stuck because every time we went there we’d pester our Dad to bring us looking for money! It grew on the grass surrounding the Monument or it was left there by Fairies, don’t you know? Myself, my sister Ann-Marie and brother Paul (the 3 youngest) would follow my Dad single file and always find money in the grass if we looked carefully enough.

In later years, my adult brain let me know why he changed our positions in the queue behind him. It was because he’d flick the money in front of himself as he walked ahead of us. That way we were guaranteed to get an even amount of findings. This didn’t put my Dad out of pocket, because either way we were getting Ice-Cream at the White Spot on the way home, whether he paid or we did.

I think that’s a family tradition unique to our family. Who knows, maybe I’m spreading that to other families now. The park has changed since then, for the better. Not much has altered physically but there are more things to do. Bike hire is available and sometimes needed since the park is 1752 acres. There’s less traffic in the park now since a one way system is currently in operation. There’s abundance of playing fields, catering from Cricket to Soccer. There are plenty of ponds, providing a habitat to a lot of ducks. Even the Zoo, in my opinion, is one of the best Zoos in the world. Years ago it was dreary and industrial, and animals didn’t look very happy at all. But today the Zoo has many thousands of visitors a year and environments that seems to keep the animals content and engaged. Loads of info here: www.phoenixpark.ie. Go there, bring your kids. You’ll love it, no matter the season.

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