Feeding the Mass: ‘31,250 litres of milk’ and ‘25,000 sliced pans’
Businesses around Phoenix Park are gearing up for a bumper weekend
Half a million people are expected in the Pheonix Park to see Pope Francis. Photograph: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty
The post-Mass pint has been a widely held Irish institution, and is likely to be so this weekend at the biggest Mass the Phoenix Park has seen in almost 40 years.
Half a million people are expected to descend on the area to fill their boots on the warmth of papal kindness, and that means a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Predictably, the powers that be aren’t leaving anything to chance.
According to official figures, some 150 food and drink outlets in 10 service areas around the outside of Phoenix Park will be serving convenience food.
“There will be everything from hot food – standard fast food of burgers, chips and the like – plus tea and coffee, confectionary and ice cream, the full spectrum really,” says a spokesperson for the Irish Organisation of Street Market Traders (IOMST). “As to where they will be, that would be down to wherever the event organisers place them. In the Phoenix Park there is expected to be 8 to 10 welfare areas around the perimeter of the papal mass site. Each welfare area can accommodate a maximum of 12 concession units and will serve a total catchment audience of 50,000 to 65,000.”
“At Knock, the anticipated attendance is 45,000 and catering will be available in three welfare areas red, yellow and blue. Each welfare area can accommodate three to five concession units.”
31,250 litres of milk
It’s estimated that half of the people attending have a cup of tea or coffee, 31,250 litres of milk will be used, and 25,000 sliced pans are expected to be used for sandwiches.
It’s possible, of course, to bring a packed lunch (although alcohol, glass bottles, cooler boxes and the like are prohibited from the site).
What’s more, a number of establishments in the surrounds of the Phoenix Park will be expecting a different weekend than usual.
Within the Phoenix Park itself, the Phoenix Café at Ashtown Castle, the Phoenix Park Tea Rooms on Chesterfield Avenue, next to Dublin Zoo, and the Boathouse Café at Farmleigh will officially be closed for the entire weekend, as well as on the Monday.
Other sustenance will be available in some of the establishments surrounding the Park, before and after mass. Many of them are no strangers to an influx of visitors after a bumper summer, but there is a distinct sense among them that things will be even more hectic than usual.
Nearby pubs and restaurants
Nancy Hands (30-32 Parkgate Street) open at midday as per usual, although according to manager Evanne, there’s a strong possibility that food will stop being served at 9pm on Sunday.
“Saturday, we are doing things as normal, but on Sunday we are running a carvery, so it’s a more limited menu,” she explains. “I’ll be in Edinburgh watching it from afar but I know there’s a slight worry about what way things will go. But we haven’t been told anything.”
Still, the bar will have extra staff on, while serving will happen on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We’re certainly hoping it will be busy, and my guess is that at about 5 or 6pm, people will start flooding in from the park,” she says.
A few doors down at Ryan’s (28 Parkgate Street) a plan to welcome all comers (well, on a first-come, first-served basis) is in place, according to manager Mark Fleming.
“We’ll be opening early, at about 10am, and serving tea, coffee and scones in the downstairs bar, and then a full breakfast – bacon, eggs, sausages, pudding, brown bread the usual – in the (FXB restaurant) upstairs,” he explains. “We don’t do breakfast as a rule, and for the rest of the day, from 12, we’ll do a weekday lunch menu instead of the usual bar menu.
How does he expect the weekend will go?
“My biggest fear is that the weather is bad, and people will sit tight and won’t leave until 2pm,” he admits. “In the restaurant it’s not too bad, but the bar can get crowded. I’d say it will return to normal after that, but from after 5pm, to about half 8, we’ll be expecting a big of a hammering, I can’t see too many people wanting to have a drink before the mass.
As to whether their regulars will descend to watch the action unfold, Fleming is sceptical.
“I think a lot of them are staying clear, or even going away for the weekend,” he says.
The ever-popular Hole In The Wall (345-347 Blackhorse Avenue) will open at 9am on Saturday and Sunday, and it’s expected that they, too, are serving a different menu than usual, offering a lunch special along with an a la carte menu.
On the other side of the park, the Angler’s Rest (20 Knockmaroon Hill) will be less accessible.
“We are open as normal (12-12.30am on Saturday and Sunday),” says a spokesperson for the Angler’s Rest. “We are pretty much taking it as it comes.”
Anyone thinking, however, that they can avail of the pub’s expansive car park can think again; even staff are being instructed to park at the West County Hotel, or Castleknock, and make the journey on foot from there.