The Phoenix Park Tea Rooms

There is something about the sight of the Tea Rooms in the Phoenix Park that always brings me back to my early childhood. I think it always reminds me of those highly memorable days when we were all brought on an exciting day out to the zoo.

We are going way back to the late seventies here and it was long before my parents even contemplated buying a car. We grew up in a quiet little village called Dundrum at the time, it’s not such a quiet little village anymore as I’m sure most of you know now but trust me, when I was only a little kid Dundrum was no more than a few shops and one tiny little street. I remember we used to have to walk across to Clonskeagh and get the number 10 bus to the side of the Phoenix Park. It all seemed like such an exciting adventure at the time, we would leave the house as early in the morning as possible, no mean feat when you think about the hassle of trying to get five kids ready and make a massive picnic at the same time. Little did I know at the time how much military like skill was involved on my parents behalf, I’ve only got one kid and even that is difficult enough, never mind trying to do it with five. Then try and add in the amount of ham and cheese sandwiches to be made prior to leaving the house.

We would arrive at the side of the park and then make our way through the Peoples Gardens before all standing in a line to cross the main road. Once we got across the first road then it was one big race down the hill to the grassy hollow with the bandstand sitting proudly in the centre. We made sure to run as fast as possible down to the bandstand so we could have a bit of a play here before our parents slowly made their own way down to catch up with us. Once they arrived we then had to make our way back up the opposite hill towards the gates of the Zoo. The first thing that we would catch sight of at the top of the hill was the very beautiful Tudor like structure that used to be known as The Kiosk when we were kids. This was when we really became excited, you knew you were close to the Zoo as soon as you could see The Kiosk. It has now been beautifully transformed into the Tea Rooms but I still get a little tinge of excitement every time I see it when I am in the park.

Oh, the memories eh !

(Comments and opinions are greatly appreciated, please feel free to let me know what you think)
11×11

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Never Load Film The Wrong Way !

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This shot comes from my most recent trip to the Phoenix Park, a day that began quite early on a very beautiful winters morning with some perfect low lying winter sunshine. I set out with a very definite plan in my head, something that I very rarely do and something that I don’t think I will ever do again. I normally just head to the park and start shooting whatever catches my attention. On this particular morning I was determined to finally capture the Wellington Monument on film, I have tried on many occasions but have never really been happy with the results. The lighting was perfect and it was far too early in the day for the usual collection of cider drinking men to find their favourite spot on the massive plinth of the structure. So I had this gigantic monument all to myself. Two hours later I sat down at the very picturesque Tea Rooms for a spot of lunch, a very satisfied individual I should add, and proceeded to empty my camera of a superbly exposed roll of film. My lunch was ordered and I decided to sit outside in the freezing cold but at least the sun was still beaming down on me. As I waited I decided to empty the camera and reload it with a fresh roll of film just so I would be all ready for round two in the afternoon.

At this point I should apologise to the two ladies sitting at the next bench with their two young children for the burst of expletives that came rushing out of my mouth when I noticed what I had actually done with the camera. As soon as I opened the back of the camera I noticed the film looked a little bit different to what I normally expect to see. It took a few seconds to figure out why it looked black on the outside instead of the usual orange I am used to. I had actually managed to load the film into the camera the wrong way around and so had spent the entire morning shooting on the protective backing paper that comes supplied with 120mm film. In short, there wasn’t a single photograph on the roll of film and to add insult to injury the entire roll of film was now completely destroyed. The last time I felt this kind of sick feeling in the pit of my stomach was the night before I was start my leaving cert exams in school, when it finally dawned on me that I really should have studied a little bit more [or even a little bit].

The only solution was to load the camera again, making sure to do it the right way this time and retrace all my steps from the previous few hours. As soon as I finished my lunch I went back to every single location but at this stage the beautiful low lying winter sun had risen in the sky and made shooting the monument virtually impossible. I feel I am destined never to get a good shot of this imposing structure but hopefully I will pluck up the courage to go back and have another go. It’s almost like a personal duel between the two of us now and I think there is only ever going to be one winner, so if you are reading this Mr Wellington Monument, I will be back to get you sometime in the future.

Taken on a Zenza Bronica SQ-A 120mm film camera using Ilford Xp2 Super
Printed by my very own hands in a darkroom

(Comments and opinions are greatly appreciated, please feel free to let me know what you think)

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To purchase a signed 10 x 10 inch print of this photo, just click the button below.

You can either pay directly via paypal or with your own credit card. The Prints are €25.00 each and that includes shipping to anywhere in the world. Your print will be made to order and will ship out within 48 hours.
If you would like a bigger or smaller size please don’t hesitate to email me with your requests.

Alternatively you can purchase unsigned prints or postcards of this photo from the Redbubble site from as little as €2.50 by clicking this link.