Frank and James Flanagan are brothers. They’re also lamplighters in the Phoenix Park. It’s the family tradition; generations of the Flanagan family have maintained and serviced the lamps of one of the largest walled parks in Europe, a park dear to the hearts of many Dubliners. When I heard that my own brother, Donal Fallon, was writing a book with Frank and Jim, my ears pricked up. Donal’s work as an historian of the city and its lesser-known stories speaks for itself. This was a project I wanted to be a part of. I was going to visit the brothers.
As myself and Donal made our way to the Phoenix Park my mind was slightly uneasy. I generally avoid photographing people – not for misanthropic reasons, simply because portraits have never been my forte – so I was beginning to feel the weight of the task ahead of me. The Flanagan brothers have trusted Donal with their story and now, in a smaller way, I was asking them to trust me.
The four of us piled into the car and set out through the Park. I know this place well. As we drive, hundreds of personal memories blend into the larger history of the Park: dog walks, assassinations, ice creams. The Phoenix Park is a treasured memory box for many Dubliners. What a pleasure it was to listen to the Flanagan brothers that day, what a pleasure it will be for many to read the book and have their own store of Phoenix Park stories and memories enriched.
This particular image comes to my mind when I walk in the Phoenix Park today. Two brothers stand under a gas lamp and another two brothers try to capture their story in images and words. Each of us engaged, in our own way, in the work of keeping some small light going as the day comes to a close.
Words and Images – Luke Fallon