egg tempera, 25 x 25 cms  

© Fergus A Ryan 2023


This fascinating object was a clockwork day/night timer for the antique gas lamps along the 4km main road of Dublin’s vast Phoenix Park, Chesterfield Avenue. Living nearby I recall from childhood the lamplighters or ‘glimmer men’ with their long poles who tended to the hundreds of gas lamps. Earlier, during WWII (in Ireland called The Emergency) when gas was rationed, inspectors, also called glimmer men, would check household usage and watch for even ‘a glimmer’ of illicit gas light during times of restriction.

Phoenix Park encloses the Viceregal Lodge, now Ireland’s presidential residence (Áras an Uachtaráin), Dublin Zoo, deer herds, the US Ambassador’s residence, Garda (police) Headquarters, the Magazine Fort, Ashtown Castle (c.1500), a small Neolithic dolmen from c.3000BC, and Europe’s largest obelisk. My childhood bicycle explored every corner of the Phoenix Park, but today my memories are of the park’s lamplighters