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Glasnevin Cemetery

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Sunday 23rd May saw me visit Glasnevin Cemetery with my good friend Blaithín.

I was dubious. I was beginning to wonder slightly why I went, at first. You may also wonder why a cemetery is being featured on this blog. As disclaimers go, I paid in just like the rest of the some 30 people who managed to get on the guided tour.

But the 140 acre site is amazing. The €5 priced guided tours done by historian and development manager Shane MacThomais run daily at 11.30am, 12.30 & 2.30pm and are well worth it. Really well worth it.

Of course you can walk in for free…. but whats the fun[?] in that. There are 1.5 million people buried there since 1832 – just pay the fiver…. you won’t regret it.

From an ‘outdoors’ person perspective…. it was noticeable that the trust has been putting a lot of money into restoration of the entire grounds. A lot of headstones appeared as 2 seperate colours and it wasn’t until Shane explained that they had been laid a long time ago and sank, some from 8′ high down to just 2′. These are all now being fixed. The fact that the yew trees were put there to prevent people parking their cattle and right down to why cemeteries are no longer placed by rivers as they used to be.

This June the cemetry will also be joined with the Botanical Gardens so one will be able to walk through from one to the other and there are further plans to open a sort of stone masons apprentices school. That I think is a great idea for such a craft. Once again its not until Shane explains how long in hours and hammer taps per hour a piece of stone takes by hand.

All that aside there are the stories of the grave robbers, why a Dublin person is never buried after 12 noon [uisce beatha 😉 ]  and as funny as it sounds even just looking at the trees made me smile.

The tour outdoors takes about 1.5 hours. The tour inside the building and out combined costs a tenner and both receipts will give you discount in the coffee shop [where the cakes are a must and the staff are polite]. They also do student rates. If you believe you may have some family history here…. do go and research.

Some of the more better known names buried there include: Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, Charles Stewart Parnell, O’Donovan Rossa, Arthur Griffiths and Countess Markiewicz. Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Cusack and Liam Whelan.

The trust employs 2 full time and 7 part time staff and can be contacted via the Glasnevin Trust website, telephone 00353-1-8826590 or email tours[at]glasnevintrust[dot]ie

*view more images of Glasnevin Cemetry

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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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Loughshinny Beach

Before you even dream of saying it….. I will 😉

What on Gods earth am I doing reviewing a beach…?

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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.

I went down on Valentines day, a change of plan from what I had intended, but… it was just relaxation heaven. The tide was out. Some of the boats were in. The fishermen where loading up the days catch. I walked the harbour wall and looked over towards Lambay Island. I walked on towards the Martello tower and did what is known as the Millennium Walk.  I brought the dogs. It was cold. I wrapped up warm. And as the wind blew [right] through my hair…. the horses wandered the beach front. You simply cannot find serenity and such amazing views like it. Add to that the fact that the beach and surrounding areas were absolutely spotless.

Shame that Fingal County Council have such limited information on their website about the history of Loughshinny. Maybe someone else maybe able to shed some extra light on this [?]. For the moment, go forth and so enjoy…. simply amazing.

View more images of Loughshinny Beach

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Gardening Nude – a book review

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This is a really unusual story…. in a sense. I’d had this idea for a book. A garden book….. I still do, anyhow… the book idea aside, it was to be something a little, not Royal Horticultural Society, all pot pourri kind of smoking jacket – esque etc… you get my drift.

Via my good mate Pat Fitzgerald I get an introduction to a lady called Shawna Coronado. Who’s written a book called gardening nude.

I got talking to Shawna. She sent me a copy. Signed. I read it. I wanted to review it but…. I felt, at the time, as I kinda knew Shawna, that it would be unfair [to you] to review someones book who I knew – where normally I buy the books myself and then [openly] review them.

[Mainly because people don’t send me stuff to review. Mainly because not a lot of people in horticulture ‘get’ green blogging. Which surprsises me cosidering their books are sold online…..]

So I gave the book to my Sis-in-law. She reviewed it. Emailed it to me. And then, in short, I wiped my entire computer…. and now I can’t get the book back…. which is a nice compliment, for Shawna.

So I called Shawna and said I do the review anyway. 😉

sidewalk-view-2009-3

one of Shawna's side walks

Being honest…. really honest? When I first read the title…. well, you know yourself 😆

But whilst it may sound childlike to have that as a first image…. it was that childlke hat that I was glad to be wearing when I read the book.

Gardening Nude is a book that I would buy for any person who has never gardened before. Or has. It is gardening – but it is also, or moreso a  journey through someones life, who gardens. Does that make sense…?

It’s a gardeners story. It’s not all botanical names and bullshit you need a thesaurus to get through… it’s real life. I found it heart warming that a little strip of land [what we may all a verge] was landscaped for passers by to take time out, to sit down [bench included] and relax [this is just one of many pictures]. I found it more heart warming when this turned into a community garden… the list literally goes on as far as Shawna is concerned.

The difference here though is, like my neighbour asking me, [is in my opinion] is the hanging basket she just made up ok… ? The answer is, did it make her smile creating what for her, isn’t something that is done everyday[?]…. always a yes! It’s not Chelsea Flower Show all the time; and in that context – it’s perfect 🙂 To analagise that back to this book. I cannot be critical. In any way. Horticulturally. And with that in mind, I loved every second of it.

It was a mild escape from the often botanical [nonsense] system I live and love…. but sometimes helping your neighbour make something pretty for the front of their house is much more fun 😉

I emailed Shawna and asked her for a little insight into the why’s, who’s and why again. Here’s what I got….

1.] is this your first book. will it be your last

Never my last! GN was a great experience and I adore writing; I produce nearly 4,000 words per week for the several blogs and newspaper columns I write, so I look forward to many, many more years of writing and certainly many more books.

2.] its not gardening…. but it is gardening…. explain yourself! [smiles]

One day several years ago I walked out behind my property line and built a small garden for the public on a city easement area next to a public walking path. I was rewarded with the most unimaginable love from my community; people stop to say hello, give me hugs, and leave me gifts. All because of this little garden. Soon I expanded the garden because of all this love and encouragement onto my neighbor’s easement property, and within two years, the garden became over 200 feet long and my link to the heart of the community. After I built the site, it became apparent that I was touching the community on an emotional level. I was stripping away the excuses and pretty much putting myself out there in a way that was personal – saying I was “nude” is purely metaphorical, but it’s a great way to express the openness I experienced.

The book, “Gardening Nude” is not about gardening (or being nude) so much as it’s about the journey of getting healthier physically and emotionally. It is about being involved with the community and making a difference for the world in a big way. When I stepped outside that fence and built that garden – after already building hundreds of feet of garden INSIDE the fence – I suddenly realized that my improved health was not just from being outdoors and gardening. It happened because I was able to reach out and lovingly share time with the community. For me it represented a miracle cure and upon realizing the importance of helping others; a huge life change.

3] would you consider yourself famous now….?

No. Although it has been one rather interesting experience to be published and have “fans” sending emails and asking questions. It is an adventure.

4] what do most say they get from your book…?

Most people say they are inspired. It makes them feel as if they are not the only one’s struggling with defining better health and trying to live simpler and greener. In the end, I want people to feel as if they can make a difference themselves – every day, one step at a time.

5] what did you think people would get from it, at first… ?

When you first see and leaf through the book, it is a guide to living healthier and greener, and building community. Easy steps are listed. But once you read the book from cover to cover, you see it is a motivating and inspiring guide which speaks to the human need to be help each other get through life.

6] what where your thoughts when you first sat down with the pen/ typewriter/ computer?

I’d already been writing a newspaper column for several years when I first sat down to write GN. I thought I was an experienced writer and that creating an inspirational book would be easy – a snap. My first idiotic thoughts, “This is gonna be easy!”

Within two weeks I was bashing my head against the computer keys realizing my stupidity. To be a good author on green lifestyle living, the author needs to be more than experienced at living the lifestyle, the book also needs to be well-researched and documented. This research took nearly three months of hard work, followed by seven months of straight blood-sweat-and-tears writing, and of course, several additional months of editing and styling.

7] are you of irish decent ?

I am of Irish/German decent and have the blue eyes and freckles to prove that fact. J I have dreamed for many years of coming to visit Ireland. This summer I toured the U.S. keynote speaking –  I love it as much as writing – and am hoping to expand and travel internationally over the next several years. Maybe I’ll get lucky and have someone bring me in for a keynote tour? Celtic music is beautiful to me and my current favorite Celtic song by a traditional group is The Chieftain’s version of “North Amerikay”. Love it!

8] do you drink guinness…?

Sadly I am allergic to beer. No kidding. However, I do like whiskey. ::grin::

9] sum your own book up in less than 4 words…?

Gardening Nude is inspirational!

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kilkenny Castle Rose Garden & Park

On Monday the 26th October 2009 I went to visit Kilkenny Castle Rose Park & Gardens. I went under the recommendation of my good friend Pat Fitzgerald.

As I walked up towards the castle I was bemused at the amount of brand spanking smooth polished granite that adorned such a vast are[n]a, complete with mirror polished steel against this ancient backdrop of the beautiful castle…. who on Gods earth decided on this…? such a shame. And to those who did this… you should be ashamed.

That out of my system. It was the gardens I went to see.Admission is free. The grounds are very well maintained.The sight of new tree planting schemes is to be applauded and admired. I really do love this park… The hills of grass so high in parts that one couldn’t see over the far side. The wooded areas were left with stacks of wood [brilliant for wildlife]underneath the canopy of wooded leaf areas. The leaves adorned some of the footpaths but not all. There are so many options when walking here… the poem ‘the road less travelled’ really does come to mind. The walkway by the waters edge is superb, so romantic, such a break from the norm…

It really is so very well done.  The grounds staff deserve a standing ovation. I could have stayed here all day….

The bad bit…. the rose garden was closed off. I attempted to sneak in under the advice of two local ladies…. but I got caught and was chucked out 😉 So this now becomes a review of Kilkenny Castle Park…

Go there and visit. Take your time. Bring the kids. Bring the dog. Watch out for the such beautiful secluded seating areas. Take your time and enjoy. This is up there with the best of them.

More images of kilkenny castle gardens can be viewed here