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The Gardener

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I’ve had an odd week of sorts [last week] in the garden. Well, it’s a little of the usual or, more of the same but it’s been an odd series of tasks that have taken place I suppose.

The weed pulling enthusiasts versus your and my chemical romance aside, it was a case of trying to dodge the showers, in part to kill of some weeds that were growing in lawns. Sticking with that for the moment, this is a very simple theory as to how that all works. There are two shapes the leaf of any plant can have. Narrow, like a grass leaf – or of a more rounded shape, in short. The molecular make up of the chemicals that kill only that of a more rounded leaf in lawns [ie daisy, buttercup etc.] is that it cannot attach itself to the narrow leaf of the grass plant and therefore only takes effect on the weeds ie. the plants we don’t want in our lawns. Problem solved.

If you are intending on doing a little of that be sure to use a hood for your napsack or calibrated sprayer. Better know as a cowel, it prevents wind drift and droplets of the semi selective [translocated herbicide – one has to be very specific] weed killer from hitting other plants and killing them off. Like hens, chemicals aren’t very fussy about what green leaves they have a go at.

The chemical brothers aside [wondering if I can sneak one more band in before the end of this piece….], hedges were cut. A little reticent of nineteen eighties Ireland to an extent, in my opinion, the symetrical boundary plantations did go out of fashion for a while but, it is nice to see them coming somewhat back into fashion. In part, I always had a little of a soft spot for en mass Grisilinia and the like. There was and is something about them that is just that little friendlier than the timber fence or the coldness of a grey and internally angular brick wall.

That aside I know a lot of the hedging in Ireland took a serious beating these winters just past, so now really is the time to start ‘ripping’ them out and getting the soil ready for some new ones to take place. If you are unsure of what type of hedge plant to use – I highly recommend a walk locally with a camera in hand and as you pass the neighbouring hedge and plant types that take your fancy simply snap away. Do remember that this is the year two thousand and eleven and one can buy plants at any height and size that you pretty much wish to, something that was almost unheard of over thirty years ago.

Looking for something a little fancier and a change from the usual that may potentially be considered garden chores. Then how about making something for yourself with your own hands ? Over on The SodShow, Dublin’s only garden radio show as a by the way [and also available in Galway – you can listen online], is starting a new feature running every Friday for the next ten weeks. There I will chat with resident civil engineer John Farrell about everything that is hard landscaping.

This Friday starts with concrete, the basics and how to mix it. Simple for some, complex for others, the idea is to start at the bottom and work our way through anything that concrete could meet in your garden. From putting in a washing line, building a barbeque all the way to garden walls and beyond. Every Friday live at three pm we will guide you through all of the things you maybe thought of building but never did. Of course you can catch the podcast version of The SodShow in iTunes and/ or live on my garden blog.

With a softer version of hard landscaping in mind, this week saw me build some quite large, robust and yet pleasing to the eye raised planters for growing some of your own vegetables, herbs and soft fruits. With the structures built and rubber lining stitched in place, the next phase is to fill them with soil and then it will be a case of choosing the crops and produce to grow for the coming months.

Some seem to have a notion that the clock stops for this gardener come the return of the nippers going back to school. Not on your Nelly Furtado [that’s three bands – although I couldn’t tell you one or any of her/ his songs of the top of my head].

I like the allium family [onions, leeks, chives and the like] but, I’ll browse the seed catalogues in the coming days and see what takes my fancy. Before I do that, I’m going to build a bench into the new part to this garden. This is a place as versus being thought of as labour intensive, I would like to be renowned and considered for being one of retreat, relaxation and escapism. How many can say that about their garden ?

Plant choices of the more outdoor type aside, it is quite funny when you think that just up the road from me pumpkins, grapes, tomatoes and aubergines are growing quite happily in abundance under glass….. maybe, just maybe I need to add a new structure to my garden.

Contact Peter Donegan

The Gardener, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 22nd August

Inis Mór

I was on Inis Mór to do a half marathon for Temple Street Childrens Hospital. I felt it only right to seperate the two and give the island a post to itself.

Getting to the island can be done in a few ways but our journey started on the Friday from Aer arann airport in Galway and this audio with Nick McGivney describes the check in procedures.
Listen!

In a little 9 seater plane I sat in the co – pilot seat as we took a highly recommended Aer Arann plane journey to Inis Mór which takes about 15 minutes. The tail end of this video shows Inis Mór airport. Surprisingly it’s quite a busy one.

I took this video from outside the Ard Einne guesthouse. What is of interest if you look closely, is the amount of walls on the island. They are simply amazing if nothing else for the fact that the stones so loosely sit on top of each other and if slightly touched will fall off. However the extremes of weather couldn’t do so, hard as they may try. Clodagh tells me the reason they don’t fall is because the wind blows through them.

The island itself is the largest of the Arann Islands and sits about 13km off the coast of Galway. It measures about 14km x 3.8km. It is considered a Gaeltacht island [irish speaking] and hosts a population of about 800 people. There are a few varied spellings to its name but I prefer Inis Mór as it seems to be the one used locally.

Wikipedia explains:

Prior to the 20th century, the island was more commonly called Aranmore, or as Árainn na Naomh (Irish: Árainn Mhór) (i.e. “Great Aran”) in English; from the traditional Irish name, leading to confusion with Arranmore, County Donegal. The Irish word Árainn means “long ridge” which is an apt description for the island. The name Inishmore was invented by the British Ordnance Survey in the mid-19th century. The new name is grammatically incorrect in Irish: because inis “island” is a feminine noun, a following adjective must be lenited, so the expected name would be Inis Mhór. Árainn is still the official Irish name.

The boat journey became the choice of return transport… this short video explains why

Lasting about 45 minutes the sailing was a journey I was glad to take.

I loved Inis Mór. The people are so very friendly, extremely kind and very much part of the reason I would go back. Whilst I did run, jog, walk crawl an approximate 20 km of the island I did only have a short stay. The islands beaches and views are just beautiful and the easiest way to get around these it seems is to hire a bike or to take a horse and cart trip. Of the places I did get to I can highly recommend:

Of use for travelling and information is:

If anyone has any further information on Inis Mór or lives there it would be great to here from you.

And as Clodagh would like to say:

Go mbeireadh muid beo an bhlian seo chugainn – May we be alive this time next year!

Hello Galway….? Welcome The Tribesman

Read my articles from The Tribesman

A call came in on Sunday evening [27th march] from Anton Mannering.

…you see basically Peter I’ve set up a new newspaper

I’ve had some unusual phonecalls in my time, but this has to be up there with the best of them, well, as regards my response being…

I’m sorry Anton, I thought for a minute there you said you set up a newspaper…

I heard Anton right the first time. He proceeded….

It’s called The Tribesman. It’s for Galway South…. and I was thinking you’d write about gardens for us….

As I looked through my kitchen window I could see my two fried eggs on the pan, change from dunkable to tanned, the ever energetic Anton going at a million miles an hour most likely fixing the tilt on his cap in the mirror over and over like a sort of Forrest Gump at the speed of light in constant running mode. And as I realised the extent of damage to my now charcoal textured eggs I found my self submerged in a one sided conversation, slowly, realising what Anton had actually achieved.

He has an office. He’s looking for more staff. He has created jobs. The first edition is out, already, this week….

We go to print on, well Tuesday… yeah Pete, like the day after tomorrow… so I was thinking about 1,000 words… listen I gotta go…. and don’t forget a nice picture of yourself…

Bam! He’s gone. Not a question mark in sight….

Congratulations to all at The Tribesman and to all in Galway County. As Anton says, it is your news and your paper. If nothing else, send them an email saying well done. 😉

Get in touch with The Tribesman

Or send a letter to:

The Tribesman
5 Carleycon House,
Oranmore,
Co. Galway

Or even drop in to the office 🙂

10 green oddities…

  • on the subject of turf – croke parks new turf will be grown in Scunthorpe reports the Irish Examiner. One or two tried to make a bigger story out of it. I’m just glad they’re getting on with the game. I don’t believe we grow that kind of turf in Ireland anyway.

Organic Guaranteed Irish Wholefoods Burgers, suitable for coeliacs and vegans & Handmade in Cork – Invented by myself Dee.

  • I am putting all of my photographs on pix.ie – slowly but surely. Genius site. Irish owned and run and the staff are really cool – when I have a wee problem. Thanks lads.
  • and finally this. Not the greatest quality…. but still extremely funny
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quinncentennial park, galway

quinncentennial park galway

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Did you ever want to give a County Council, in this case a parks department, whose wages I and you pay – a good kick up the bottom ?

Two parks in two days in Galway is what I set out to do. That’s what I did.

The other was Claude Toft Park. It shouldn’t really matter what two parks I chose to visit – in my honest opinion this parks department needs a radical reality check. If I maintained that park? It wouldn’t be in that state. Or…… I could be out of a job. The options ‘they’ should be given.

Before ‘anyone’ suggests the economic-hulabuloo ? The evidence, horticulturally, is that this neglect has been evident and growing worse for a long [in years] time. Secondly, I personally go to a park so I don’t have to hear about that sort of stuff.

I paid hard earned money to travel to Galway. I spent money when in Galway. If I was a tourist travelling from abroad – I would not return. And with tourism already down 20% – I am beginning to understand why that might be.

To the park – Whilst the outlay remembles a little bit more of what I would consider ‘a park’, once again – zero available information on the internet regarding this place also.

I wasn’t impressed. At first, my mood lightened when I saw a rock noting that it was ‘developed for the benefit of Galways senior citizens by Digital Equipment International B.V. 1984’. I then looked around. Not impressed. My spirits were lifted again when I came across the central water feature and a Mom with kids and dog playing there [the only people apart from me]. I saw a wee bridge. I then saw the now defunct water feature…What?!! Back to brutal.

I’m guessing in 1984 this park was an absolute stunner and the gesture by the company [I assume], in a 1984 Ireland, Saint-like. As an overview the layout is good and the road less travelled pathways and secluded seating places make it a nice place to spend time, possibly, I’m sure. But as of now the park needs attention. Urgently.

Once again – my second park in two days. And of all of the parks I have ever visited. These have to be two of the worst. These are peoples parks. NOT The County Councils.

Shame on you Galway City Coucil Parks Department. The same Galway City Council that wish to plough a road through Terrylands Peoples Forest?  And by the way, it’s the peoples forest.

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