places i visited

Caher Bridge Garden, Clare.

caher bridge garden (6)

I was in the beautiful County of Clare for work reasons about 6 weeks ago. And via introduction through the very lovely Maureen of Clare Tourism, one of the double whammy’s of my working stay there was my meeting with Carl Wright and my visit to the absolute wonderland he has created that is Caher Bridge Garden.

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St Annes Park. Rose Festival 2013. Dublin

rose festival, st annes 2013

Sunday just gone I spent the day at St Anne’s Park, Raheny at The 2013 Rose Festival. Without Question it was brilliant to see so many families out and about laughing in the sunshine. And ice creams and what not. And fair to say my family had a ball. And it was free including parking. And all credit to Dublin City Council for throwing a really well organised event.

That aside and this not really being the place were family occasions are reviewed, I’m gonna skip straight to the headline act within the gardens. And in short they were shite.

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Lucan Village Park

lucan village park (3)

Pictured Above: taken from inside, the roof structure of the gazebo at Lucan Park

As bustling places to unwind go, Lucan Village Park is an absolute gem of a spot that I cannot recommend highly enough. I’ll grant you horticulturally, it is far from the Botanic Gardens, but then what public park isn’t. And that in mind if, there were a parks leader board scored solely on we know what tasty plants are, this space would be up there with the best of them.

I was doing a composting talk in one of the local schools and with an hour to burn and my lunch box and flask in my arsenal, I was so happy I stumbled across this stunner of a little haven. I just wish I could have stayed there longer.

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Corkagh Park Demesne, Dublin

It was Sunday last when I visited Corkagh Park Demesne with The [Non] Gardeners Group that I run and if I’m honest, I was very aware that I had passed this park, sited just off the Naas Road Clondalkin, many times and had never popped in. For that alone, my love of the great outdoors and maybe to an extent for the historical gardens I have designed, I most probably deserve a wee kick in the bottom.

Opened to the public in 1986, the 120 hectare Demesne dates back to 1650 with Corkagh House being constructed there between 1702 and 1714. And though the original grounds, would have contained water gardens, rose gardens, walled and kitchen gardens, to name but a few – through its evolution, there of course have been changes.

Of note in the estates cycle is it’s connection to The Titanic and how it did change the course of the estates future. That however and it’s the life story is one far better told by the staff of South Dublin County Council, namely Máire Ní Dhomhnaill, Joe Hickey and David Cotter who were ever so lovely in their welcoming of the garden group.

With that in mind, Dublin’s garden radio show and podcast, The Sodshow will air a Corkagh Park Special this Friday [part1] 12th October and next Friday [part 2] Corkagh Park Demesne 19th October.

In the meantime, be you a garden designer, a lover of the great outdoors or just looking for a nice spot to bring your picnic for a days outing, a visit there is highly recommended. From the fishing lakes, pet farms and playgrounds – to the history, the rose gardens and nature walks ~ there is literally something there for everyone.

Further info and listen details:

Further information from South Dublin County Council:

Lough Derravaragh, Co. Westmeath

Lough Derravaragh or Loch Dairbhreach is pretty much famed for it’s relation to The Children of Lir (Oidheadh Chlainne Lír) old Irish fable where after being turned into swans, the four children of King Lír, not by choice, spent 300 years there.

A little like being able to picture a child inside a giant peach, I find some grown ups will get why I could sit here all day and let my imagination run away with itself. For those who maybe think that sounds a little outlandish, not so far away from Lough Derravaragh lies Lough Ennell and Johnathan Swift Park ~ the spot where Swift first dreamed up Gulliver’s Travels (1726) sitting right by it’s side. A well known refuelling spot for the daydreamers it seems.

Back to the great outdoors and good to know for the tent lovers, my stay by was by way of camping [Lough Derravaragh Camping – phone: 044-9371500]. I chose to pitch my tent right at the back of the lake. All things told there are few things in life more beautiful than watching the sun go down on such a stunning location.

Note to campers – If it’s available, pick the wee pitch by the wee bench underneath the tree. I don’t believe my fresh ground caffeine has ever tasted so good….

Also nearby in the town Multyfarnham is the wonderful 17th Century Estate of Mornington House, home to so very wonderful Anne and Warwick O’Hara. A real must visit if you are in the area. If however you don’t wish to travel that far, at the end of the avenue of Lough Derravaragh Camp site is the Donore Woodland Walk.

On a slight side note, I don’t know whether wee 2 and a half year old Ella understood the story Dad told her of the swans when we saw them. And though, I did change a line or three hither dither, a little of me is hoping she did. One thing is for sure, I know I’ll return there again when she and I are a little taller.

For all of the descriptions I may hold – gardener, horticulturist, landscaper and lover of the great outdoors – Lough Derravaragh quite simply ticks every single box and I cannot recommend it highly enough.