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Back Garden Revisit. Howth, Co. Dublin.

irelands eye garden view

This was a garden that I got to revisit some years after I gave it it’s first garden makeover.

Before I go any further, that in the distance you might just be able to recognise as the view of Ireland’s Eye.

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Dublin’s Top 10 Parks

peter donegan, gardens

My top ten Irish parks and places list is based on a few things…. essentially it comes down to the entire experience and will not include any park where one is charged money to enter [that also includes hidden charges like parking etc]. That excludes more places than you realise… But, if you are looking to get out and about then I hope this maybe encourages you to do so without costing you a penny and gives you something a little bit different.

Coments can be left below. You can vote for your favourite park or click on the title of any of the parks listed to bring you to the post about that park.

Dublin’s Top 10 Parks

1. The War Memorial Park

If there is a park comparable to poetry…. This *is* it! The history, the story, the layout, in it’s entirety… I love it. Not as many know about it. Maybe because it’s only across the road from the ‘more popular’ Phoenix Park – but for me – this is the ultimate. A bit off the beaten track but it has everything a gardener and not could ever want.

2. Ardgillan Demesne

It is a park, a castle [but not a true castle…], a playground, a gardens… It is by far the finest example of a park I have seen in Ireland to date. If I could give this park a 6 out of 5 rating I would. Well done to the grounds staff – you really have taken how a park and gardens should be maintained to a new high. Based on Dublins northside, It stands out for very good reason.

3. Merrion Square Park

This is a really cool park. I love it. Right in the heart of Dublin City Centre. The art inside the park is brilliant; the buildings surrounding housed so many amazing Irish people. The sign on the gate is cool and the people are sooooo relaxed inside. It even has a playground. Go there, love it and enjoy it! Never overly crowded so you can really relax here.

4. Father Collins Park

To describe this park in a few words is impossible. To describe it on video would be unfair. This is without a doubt possibly the finest ‘new’ park I have ever seen in my life. Named after Father [Fr] Joseph Collins who was the hardest working and first parish priest of the Donaghmede area the 52 acre park took about 1.5 years to build. It is young. But it is pure genius at its absolute finest. Off the beaten track… but worth every minute you may spend getting lost.

5. The Garden Of Remembrance

It is quite simplistic in its lay-out and overall design. But I love the little snug part where one can sit in quiet and ponder. It is also the heart of Dublin City not far from O’connell Street and where a little tranquility is the order of the day…. this is a little gem.

6. Irelands Eye

Free in. No charge. That said you may need a boat to get there. But – The day out that I had there… is one that I will never forget. I even found it difficult to pick out just the one image for this post.

7. St Patricks Park

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. 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. Once again, a little off the beaten track but worth the walk.

8. Mountjoy Square Park

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. 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. For the sole reason that its not overly complex… it makes my top 10

9. Loughshinny Beach

Well, it turns out one of North Dublins hidden gems may not be the worst day trip you ever took. And in this case it turns out there is a lot more than sand to see here. This place is literally brimmed with history and nature. For those not into the ye olde botanics of the great outdoors…. this is exactly what you are looking for. The beach may well be the meeting  point [so to speak] but there is so much more than that here. Something for all the family.

10. Dubh Linn Gardens

Nestled in behind Dublin Castle, just off Dame Street [palace st. to be exact] is one of the finest gardens I have ever entered in my life. You know when you just get that ‘feeling groovy’ kind of a nice feel….? That’s exactly what I got… the garden is serenity at its finest. Go there. Enjoy! Absolutely amazing. Talk about escapism right in the middle of the city, yet still not too many go here that often.

There are some parks you may expect to see here. Some may even surprise you that they are here. Not all that I have visited are reviewed on the blog – but nonetheless these are my Top 10 parks and places that you should visit and ones that I hope you enjoy should you choose to go there. I know I did.

Coments can be left below. You can vote for your favourite above or click on the title of any of the parks listed above to bring you to the post about that park.

donegan gardens

Irelands Eye

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The second garden group event took place today. This time to Irelands Eye.

It was an amazing day. And to that some notes of thanks are due. To the legend that is Diarmuid O’Cathasaigh of The Howth Peninsula Historical Society, who spoke to us about the island and to Mary Stephenson who introduced me to Diarmuid – thank you so very much. It put meaning to the journey.

To the skipper of The Little Flower, Mark Doyle of Island Ferries. You are Sir, a gentleman and I wouldn’t sail in any other boat.

To the people I spent the day with… I applaud you and thank you. Absolute Ladies and gentlemen.

To the island itself… I did try to edit the story teller [the video of him that is] that is Diarmuid [and I could have rewritten what he told me]… but the guy is a legend and I just couldn’t do it. Want to know about Irelands Eye…. really ?

From the famous murder to why martello is actually incorrect spelling. From the year 200 AD to Napoleon and why Howth has 2 of everything…. it’s all there.

All I know is, prior to this trip, I could find very little information on Irelands Eye, including 3-ish photographs and some information on wiki…

This video is the ultimate guide to a history of Irelands Eye. The day out… one I will never forget.

My advice if you are going…

  • Get on well with skipper Mark – that’s if you wish to plan in advance. He is a marine engineer by trade and a gentleman by nature.
  • Wear long trousers and hiking boots, not necessary, just better.
  • Bring a picnic including a hot drink and water And sun screen and water proofs.
  • Relax and enjoy. Worth every cent… more than that, every minute.
  • The boat rip costs €15 and if the tide is with you takes about 15 minutes
  • I recommend you spend a good 2 -3 hours there
  • There is much more than the martello tower there [see images]
  • Anything else…

looking for more information

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Garden Group Tour To Irelands Eye Guide

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ALL CLEAR GIVEN. TRIP IS GO!!!

Not to be confused with another Garden Gig – the grow your own garden course – that I am running this Saturday.

This post is for those attending The Peter Donegan Weblog Garden Group Tour to Irelands Eye.

*ONLY* If your name has been accepted via comment on The Garden Group To Set Sail blog post – can you get on the boat. Hate to sound rude but…. I’d rather you disappointed than the skipper throwing me overboard 😉

Further to my chat with the boats skipper [17:22 hours] departure is reliant upon weather confirmation to be given on this Friday Morning. I have been told to assume however that it is going ahead. The strike through just under the photo above will be removed as soon as full weather clearance is given.

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11.30am arrive

As this trip is all reliant on a boat departing – please be on time!! Think angry Skipper. It is recommended you use public transport. Or do a variation of park and ride. Street parking around Howth is mental on a sunny Sunday!

The Dart stop you want is Howth – do not confuse this with Howth Junction.On exit from the DART station you are right outside The Bloody Stream Pub [pictured left], where we will meet.

Bus numbers 31 and 31B also leave from Lower Abbey Street.

We don’t have a tour guide. But we do have….

Diarmid O’ Cathsaigh from the Howth Peninsula Heritage Society will meet us at the pier and give us a short talk [about 20 minutes] on the history and tales of the island. Big thanks to Mary Stephenson for organising this for me.

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Boat Journey

Boat will depart to Irelands Eye as soon as Diarmuid is finished his talk. All monies [€15] to be paid to the skipper up front. I’d reckon he doesn’t take credit card or cheque.

Clothing

It is recommended that you wear long trousers and good water proof boots if you wish to walk the island. The growth that covers the island is gorse/ thorned/ prickly and wet.

Photography/ Video

Fully recommended. Just google Irelands Eye for images and you’ll understand why. If someone wishes to record Diarmuids chat with us in hi-definition that’d be great.

Lunch

Bring a picnic and flask. And put it in a backpack. A comfy one.

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Weather

the weather is supposed to be good thank God. But – this is Ireland and once we’re there…. we are there. Same rules apply for the bathroom.

Be careful

This is an island.There are jagged edges/ cliff faces etc.

If you are going wandering please do not do so alone.

Birds tend [if they are] to make their nests at ground level. Keep a careful eye out.

Please also be extra careful with wrappers/ rubbish that may blow away when on the island.

Other

My mobile number is vodafone prefix and then 6594688. Use it if you need to.

If Blaithín, Dena and Rosemary start singing Michael row the boat ashore or Rock the Boat – you have my permission to use your logic 😉

It is at this point I will refer to The Garden Group Guide and I’ll look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

I took these pics last week….

The Garden Group Set To Sail

I have a different gig on this weekend – not be confused! To this one, planning had started some time ago for the garden groups second journey and I am pleased to say we are ready to roll.

Never been on a garden group gig…?

After a late night phonecall with a gentleman called Mark from Island Ferries [4th February] our next adventure will be to Irelands Eye.

  • Date: April 18th, Sunday
  • Time: 11.30 am
  • Meeting Point: Outside The Bloody Stream Pub, Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Cost For Boat Trip: €15 return – paid to Skipper on the day
  • Booking: via comment here only
  • Contact me: I’m on [Vodafone Prefix]6594688 or twitter.com/DoneganGardens
  • Other: As we are travelling by boat I will need to call two days in advance to ensure that weather conditions are suitable for us to travel. There are no toilet facilities on the island – so use your head!  Also be very careful with rubbish/ wrappers that may blow away.
  • Dress Code: See above video and this is Ireland.
  • Duration: I conferred with The Skipper and I and he reckon about 3 hours on the island should be ample.
  • Weather: the weather…. your guess is as good as mine ;) and this is Ireland. But I will be keeping an eye on met eireann and saying a wee prayer. Bring an umberella. Wrap up warm. And wear some shoes that will keep your feet dry.
  • Lunch: I had suggested bringing a picnic. That’s what I will be doing anyway. All things going good it’ll be a flask of coffee and some nice sambos!
  • Anything else: leave a comment below or gimme a call.
  • Directions: Get to Howth via DART is the best option. The entrance exit of the station is right next to our meeting point The Bloody Stream Pub. Bus numbers 31 & 31B also go there from Lower Abbey Street and there should be ample parking.

Have I ever been there…? No. But from my extensive google research here’s what I have found out.

Courtesy Wikipedia

The ruins of a Martello Tower and an 8th-century church (the Church of the Three Sons of Nessan) are the only signs of previous habitation. The tower’s window entrance 5 metres above ground level can now be accessed by a rope that hangs down from the window. The church functioned as parish church for Howth until recent centuries, eventually being replaced by a church in the village due to the limitations of having to take a boat for every service.

In Celtic times the island was called Eria’s Island. Eria was a woman’s name and this became confused with Erin, derived from Éireann, the Irish name for Ireland. The Vikings substituted the word Island with Ey, their Norse equivalent, and so it became known as Erin’s Ey and ultimately Ireland’s Eye. The island was also known formerly as Inis Faithlenn.

Ireland’s Eye comprises the main island, a range of rocks and an islet called Thulla. The most spectacular feature is the huge freestanding rock called “the Stack”, at the northeastern corner of the island, which plays host to a large variety of seabirds, including thousands of guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and gulls. Ireland’s fifth gannet colony became established on the Stack in the 1980s, and there are now a few hundred pairs breeding there each year. There is a large cormorant colony on the main island, and a few breeding pairs of puffins. Grey seals are abundant in the sea around the island.

The Eye is a townland in its own right, with a registered area of 21.5 hectares (53 acres).

Birdweb.net also have some good reading for those a little more into the nature side of it with some great notes on routes to take and what you can expect to see. I would pay particular note to this line of their writing

It is good policy to stick to the trodden paths as it is only too easy to walk on well camouflaged chicks or eggs.

Places for trip are limited to 18 people. Those who were on the previous Garden Group trip have first refusal and the usual Garden Group Guides apply.

*The First Garden Group Journey

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