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Blarney Castle and Gardens, Cork

peter donegan, adam whitbourn, paul osullivan,

Pictured above Peter Donegan [Donegan Landscaping] with Adam Whitbourn [Head Gardener] and Paul O’Sullivan [Media and Advertising Manager] at Blarney Castle and Gardens.

I had met Adam Whitbourn some time ago at Clare Garden Festival where I was speaking earlier this year and whilst our paths had crossed since, last week I decided to make the journey to Cork and was honoured that Paul and Adam, two real gents I should add, both made themselves available to personally guide me through the estate.

We met up last Thursday. I was on my holidays. In Tipperary. Camping. In Con Traas’s Apple Farm. Because where else did you expect this horticulturist to go on vocation vacation. I’ll get to that later…

My passion for plants aside, something really very good has happened at Blarney Castle and Gardens and a day spent there is something that I can not recommend highly enough. The grounds are quite easily nothing short of stunning, majestic, genius, quite brilliant and a fine example of just how it should be done.

In the disclaimer department, I didn’t have to pay through the gate. That was as it usually is with me and gardens, just a quick phone call.

For you who maybe haven’t visited since your school trip when you were 12 years old or, to you who are thinking of coming from abroad, you should go. You will thank me for it. And when you do, the following and the images below might just make your time there that little bit sweeter. Read more

Mountjoy Square Park

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According to the Dublin City Council’s website:

Located in the centre of Mountjoy Square, once Dublin’s premier Georgian area, and comprising 1.8 hectares, this park was originally created by the Developer of the Square, Luke Gardiner, Lord Mountjoy around 1800, as part of his grand concept which envisaged the great sweep of Gardiner Street down to the Custom House.

While the Square was upgraded in the late 1980’s, its full potential as a Georgian Park must await the relocation of the existing all-weather sports area currently under active consideration by the City Council.

Funny thing is, I don’t know where the pitch or the people who use it would/ could go if the all weather pitch was relocated, that is assuming the park is for the people. That said, I would also like to see it returned to its original concept. But then that’s all very good for me to say. Either or I like the park, although there are bits of it I simply just didn’t get. That said I was happy to be there and enjoyed my stroll. Sincerely.

I didn’t like the fact that the gates weren’t open on all sides and the Dublin Bikes Scheme stand was empty. The pottery around some of the trees baffled me but then that was balanced by some new planting and what appears to be a corner of the park for leaf mulch. The play ground was being used when I was there. The more junior nippers were in one area whilst the not so juniors were in the one next to it. The people were friendly and as tourists watched with maps from outside one Mom explained to me how the electronic dance game worked with a quick Mother Daughter demonstration.

I liked the rambling paths. The sculpt in the middle made me walk up to it… but I’ve no idea what it represents. Sometimes it’s better that way. I liked the piles of raked leaves and wanted to kick them everywhere…. the trees were all pruned and crown raised above head height so one could see everywhere from anywhere in the park. I saw wallflowers freshly planted and the hedges nicely cut screened the football area.

The park does need some extra added attention in no specific area and it seems, at this moment there’s a bit of everything there, which is good, but aesthetically it doesn’t do it justice. That said, I’d be quite proud to have this park on my doorstep.

Wikipedia gives some really interesting facts on Mountjoy Square

Mountjoy Square (Irish: Cearnóg Mhuinseo), one of five Georgian squares in Dublin, Ireland, lies on the north side of the city just under a kilometre from the River Liffey. Planned and developed in the late 18th century by the second Luke Gardiner, then Viscount Mountjoy, the square is surrounded on all sides by individual terraced, red-brick Georgian houses. Construction began in the early 1790s and the work was completed in 1818

Mountjoy can boast being Dublin’s only true Georgian square, each of its sides being exactly 140 metres in length. While the North, East and West sides each have 18 houses, the South has 19, reflecting some variation in plot sizes. Though each side was originally numbered individually, the houses are now numbered continuously clockwise from no. 1 in the north-west corner. While its North and South sides are continuous from corner to corner, the East and West sides are in three terraces, interrupted by two side streets, Grenville Street and Gardiner Place to the West and Fitzgibbon and North Great Charles Street to the East. Gardiner Street passes through the West side of the square, while Belvidere Place and Gardiner Lane run off the North- and South-East corners.

Although some of the original buildings fell to ruin over the 20th century, replicas have been built in their place, so the square still maintains its consistent Georgian façade.

View more images of Mountjoy Square Park

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Dublin [Rose] Festival ?

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Fresh from the rose festival here are my thoughts….

This is what I got from the Dublin Event Guide

DUBLIN ROSE FESTIVAL – ST. ANNE’S PARK; RAHENY
The Dublin City Rose Festival will be held on the 17+18 July from 10:30-18:00 in St.Anne’s Park, Raheny, Dublin 5. Apart from the horticultural aspect of the festival (the Rose Trials on Friday from 10:00-14:00), a variety of entertainment will also be provided on both days including guided walks of the rose garden, live music, food stalls, a farmer’s market, a picnic area, and children’s entertainment with face painting, Viking re-enactments, t-shirt workshops and lots more. Despite many years of this festival and probably because the organiser is Dublin City, there is still no proper website for the festival, so timetables for the live entertainment etc are top secret, it seems. Year after year, for the third year now I get frustrated with Dublin City. The events are really great and there is a lot of variety, but getting the word out and providing detail is a disaster.
http://www.dublin.ie/calendar_details.aspx?eventid=2323

View more images of the dublin rose festival – not great but it’s all I’ve got.

Please note, the grounds staff at St Annes Park do a really great job and I shall review this park later. These are just my thoughts on the event that is The Dublin Rose Festival.

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St Audoens Park, Dublin

Located on the corner of High Street and Cook Street [just on past Christ Church] St Audoens Park is, I’m glad to say, another of Dublins little gems. According to Dublin City Councils website:

St. Audoen’s Park, although less than 0.5 hectares in size, is quite significant in historical terms.  Located adjacent to St. Audoen’s Church (1300 A.D.), it incorporates the first stone city wall dating from about 1100 A.D.; St. Audoen’s Arch, the last surviving entrance to the old city; and Fagan’s Gate.

The City Wall was restored in 1976 as part of Architectural Heritage Year and the park development of 1982 won a prestigious civic award.  Audoen was a 7th – century Bishop of Rouen (France) and the nearby church named after him is reputedly one of the oldest still used for regular religious services.

As a park, it is extremely relaxing and a great little getaway from the hustle and bustle. The fact that it has so much from a heritage point of view is something that maybe is overlooked a bit too often… But maybe there’s a little of The War Memorial Park versus The Phoenix Park going on here with Christs Church only a stones throw away [?].

That said I like it. Nicely laid out. Clean and tidy. There was even a gardener in trimming the lawn edges on the day I visited. I also like the fact that there’s a Dublin Bike Scheme collection point right outside. I cycled right up from Exchequer Street. The beds were a little empty but I’ll simply put that down to the time of the season… still no leaves on the trees 😉 A note should go also to the stone work cobbles that so often are not in keeping with the surroundings.

Go take a look. Enjoy. Well worth it.

more picture of St Audoens Park

St Patricks Park, Dublin

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I had been to St Patricks Park before. Just never with camera in hand and an eye on reviewing it. There is a difference.

But I love this park. I like the personal touch to it – the signs of which are, literally, everywhere.

Of particular note *and something that makes the park so very beautiful are the little ode’s to those [possibly surpising] who knew the park so well [as versus political heads who never really went there at all]. One of those is to Tom Keegan, a previous head gardener and he is just one of many.

I like the layout. The park is well maintained. People in there seemed relaxed and the pace of life on entering somehow seems to slow motion slightly.

There’s an unusual mix of old and new…. but it is funny that one wouldn’t be so aware which parts are the more modern. Add to that a fine backdrop of the Cathedral and the fact that the rails between have been left ‘not blocked off’.

It was only last week when I visited here [early Feb], whilst there were minor changes and touches that I may add, the reality is it is one of Dublins better parks.

Two things. First, this is the second mention I have given to the river poddle and [secondly] Nice to see the Lord Iveagh touch here again…. makes me want to say thanks to the chap for such a fine legacy that he has certainly left behind.

Go take a look, bring the coffee, relax and enjoy. Well worth the trip.

According to Dublin City Councils website

Situated beside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, tradition has it that St. Patrick baptised the first Irish Christians there with water from the River Poddle which flows underground.  Developed by Lord Iveagh under the St. Patrick’s Park Act of 1897, work was completed by July 1904 to a layout by Arthur Dudgeon C.E., dated 17th July 1901.  Lord Iveagh continued to maintain the park for a number of years under a joint arrangement with the Corporation who eventually took full responsibility in the 1920’s.

The park provides an ideal setting for the cathedral and recent additions in 1988 include a Literary Parade highlighting the works of Swift, Mangan, Wilde, Shaw, Yeats, Synge, O’Casey, Joyce, Behan, Beckett, Clarke, Dillon and the Liberty Bell Sculpture. There is also a childrens playground.

View more images of St Patricks Park

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