The Office of Public Works (OPW) is delighted to announce that the ground-breaking TV series on life in the Phoenix Park returns for a second series, commencing this Thursday 17 September at 7pm on RTE One TV.
Viewers are invited to revisit one of Europe’s largest city parks for an inside look at the magic of the Phoenix Park, as ‘It’s A Park’s Life’, in association with the OPW and Moondance Productions returns to our screen tomorrow night. In this new season of the highly successful documentary, revisit a day in the lives of gardeners, Brian and Meeda, and our favourite park rangers, Kieron and James, among an array of fresh new faces. Narrated by Emmy winner Baz Ashmawy, ‘It’s a Park’s Life’ is the perfect show for the whole family to sit down and enjoy together.
The Phoenix Park is like a city within a city. Now 350 years old and spanning 1,752 acres in the centre of Dublin, it is a diverse microcosm lived in and enjoyed by dignitaries and Dubliners alike.
First opened to the public in 1747, the park has an abundance of historical significance. Discover the secrets of the Magazine Fort. Once abandoned and boarded up, the OPW are now renovating it into a visitor centre.
The first episode of the series falls on the President’s Day Competition at the All-Ireland Polo Club, one of the oldest in the world. Viewers get to follow club legend, Lar, as he soaks up the atmosphere and commentates on the action. The club’s history and significance to Irish culture is unveiled and we discover Ireland’s influence in the world of Polo.
Also, in the first episode in the Walled Garden, we are reunited with gardeners Brian and Meeda, who are never short of work. It’s springtime and the garden is beginning to come alive, and they are out to harvest the first rhubarb of the year and prepare the greenhouse for the busy summer months ahead. However, a tiny adversary is proving to be quite a problem for the pumpkins…
And over to the Garda band where 29 of the finest musicians in in An Garda Síochána are busy practising for one of their biggest performances of the year – Ireland v Scotland in the Aviva Stadium. It will be an emotional occasion for all as Martin Doyle, their bus driver of 20 years, is retiring, and this will be his final trip with the band. The Garda band was established shortly after the foundation of An Garda Síochána in 1922 and they practise in the Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park.
While all this is happening, the Irish Defence Forces open day is underway in Farmleigh. One of the highlights of the day will be the army’s parachute team, The Black Knights, performing a jaw-dropping sky dive from the army helicopter. They are one of the top army parachuting teams in the world, led by Command Sergeant Graham Nuttall Doe who has over 3000 jumps under his belt. You won’t want to miss it.
The Phoenix Park has been used for several large public events down through the years, from concerts to homecomings to Papal masses. Later in the series, we go behind the scenes with Park rangers Kieron and James as they survey the purpose built area for one of the park’s biggest events to date, the Ed Sheeran concert!
There’s also an intimate and moving ceremony to mark Missing Persons Day, an annual commemoration which takes place in Farmleigh each year. It’s a chance for families whose loved ones are missing to meet up, share stories, and find some comfort in their mutual trauma.
Later in the series, we get to meet Phoenix Park’s very own Tree Surgeon, Tony. He keeps a watchful eye over the tens of thousands of trees located in the park and he loves what he does! Unfortunately for Tony, there is a dead tree by a path which is posing a hazard to park users and it must be felled in the interest of safety. It’s not all doom and gloom for the tree however as it goes to a workshop to be turned into commemorative benches, designed by award-winning furniture designers, Tim Daly and Neil Fox. We will also follow Tony as he surveys and clears the damage caused by Storm Ophelia, which was one of the strongest storms to hit this island in recorded history.
We end the season on an enchanting note, with the most snow the park has seen in decades. From sledding to snowman competitions, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. However, these magical times prove more difficult for the park rangers, as the dropping temperatures result in blocked roads, hungry deer and the threat of flooding.
Throughout the much anticipated return of this landmark series, viewers will also get a chance to meet some of the people who give the Phoenix Park its unique charm. There’s Jim and Andy Flanagan, cousins, and the culmination of 5 generations of Phoenix Park lamplighters, Forestry school founder Lucy, and the creative dog-walker, 82-year old John Ryan.
The Phoenix Park is managed by the OPW on behalf of the State. ‘It’s a Park’s Life’ is produced and directed by Shane Brennan of Moondance Productions, creator of the long-running and much-loved series The Zoo.
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