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rothe house and gardens, kilkenny

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I had given the Rothe House and gardens a mention before and I had noted it was on my to do list. And I did go. Sunday 25th October 2009.

I wanted to go on the Sunday morning/ afternoon, but unusual for me to assume different, on Sunday it only opens between 3-5pm. I also really [no offence] only wished to visit the gardens.

Their website describes it as an ‘early 17th century Irish urban garden’. But it was the front of one of their brochures that caught my eye….

Rothe Garden Kikenny. Your chance to ‘own’ a piece of a medieval garden

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I was very intrigued… I’ve visited, researched and been awarded for the design and build of a 17th Century Garden… so this was going to be some treat… ?

The South East Ireland gardens guide tells me that it is only €2 to see the gardens and €5 to see the house and gardens. I went to pay in. I was told €5 multiplied by two. I paid. Money [the amount of that is]  aside, if I had known in advace the ‘price structure’ I would have only paid in to see the gardens.

The question then is to the gardens themselves. Are they 17th century….? Are they medieval…? Honestly, not in my opinion. Or shall I rephrase yes there are fruit trees planted and yes there are vegetables growing. Was I impressed to the standard of…? Not really, being honest.

I am not trying to be disrespectful here. I’m not trying to knock the Rothe House trust who I must admit have done amazing work on the house and the displays within the building. It really does deserve applause and admiration. The work on the [re]construction of building internally and externally is superb.

But with regard to the gardens, if I was simply told that there are some gardens attached and it is €2 in to see them…. would I pay it and would I have any complaints…? Not one.

There are positives. I admire the fact that the brail signs are there; that one can have a tree planted in their or a loved ones name. That visitors were simply sitting and enjoying each others company is also a truly wonderful sight; it is very serene and there really are some nice pieces within… That said, the overall design leaves a lot to be considered. [Although] possibly a factor of funding, the gardens are also young and for them to mature and come into their own will take time. On a side note I should also add that the gardens are particularly well maintained.

The point of this weblog is not to be bold in my writing. But whether the entry is €2 or €200 the question is how honest in my appraisal should I be and more importantly would I recommend for you to visit the gardens…. ? Not really.

UPDATE: 15th Dec ’09 The Rothe House responds

there are more photographs here

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coultry park, dublin

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I wouldn’t guess too many know about this park. In fact I’d say very few. I never knew about it up until recently. But I’m glad I did take the time to visit it.

Located in between the new and old Ballymun…. the stark contrast is to be admired. In fact it is to be applauded. Because what I saw was the fact that for the first time in my life a park was built before a building development was finished. The park still has a bit, on the peripherals to go, but its really good. I like it!

What was much more admirable was the little plaques at the base of so many trees. They acknowledged a group or an organisation who donated money and paid for that tree to go into the park.

This is important. Because now a new park is about the people. It tells a story. It has a reason and a meaning, personal to those who will frequent it.

Ballymun regeneration, the people who live there and Dublin City Council for so many reasons will have got this park spot on when it’s fully complete in so many ways.

I’m gonna give this park 3/5 – only because it’s got a bit of finshing to go. That said I would strongly recommend you go here. Visit it. Take your time. Sit on a grass mound and let life pass you by.

What I found most unusual about this place when I went there…. There was about 12 teenagers sitting around talking and 3 kids with their parents in the playground. Not an inch of litter to be seen. Some people associate parks with an older age group… Nice to see re-generation getting a double meaning. 😉

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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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dubh linn garden

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…

Only one problem…. there is little to zero information available on the **garden*** [Not the Castle…. the garden] to be found on the web….?

It drove me a little demented to be quite honest. Mainly as I was so impressed. But I was in luck on my day there. A very kind man on his lunch break who worked in the neighbouring Chester Beatty Library noticed my confusion and explained the cobbled lawns were ‘eels’; the fact that the glass balls are the eyes and that it was based on a celtic mythology design… 😉

It is also [he explained] where the river dodder and the river liffey met – this meeting is what created a black pool – traslated into Irish one gets Dubh Linn. And it is from this that Dublin got its original name. It is also the site upon which the garden sits today.

I didn’t stop my ‘research’ there, I rang the very helpful Margaret Gormley of the OPW. Margaret is an amazing lady that I know from spending too much time in the Phoenix Park making gardens;) Turns out the gardens were designed by a lady called Ana Dolan, who also works with the OPW [I did try to get in touch with Ana…].The plaques that are brimmed with names that I noticed on the walls…they’re the names of all of the people who took part in The Special Olympics; the sculpt being the emblem of. It is also believed that the gardens are approximately 15 years old. [Thank Margaret!]

On the 15th November 2004 the gardens received  The Best Landscaped Open Space Award by The Tidy Towns unit of The Dept of Environment, Heritage & Local Government….

The other amazing fact of note is that the lawn is best viewed from the State apartments or… a helicopter. The lawn doubles as a landing pad for those who can!

If you are planning to visit, The Chester Beatty Library is a must. The coffee shop, The Silk Road Café does ‘real’ really good coffee and cakes and personally I even like the gift shop. Do be careful on planning a day there and ring in advance if you must as it may be closed for official state business.

My 3 pin plug type frustrations aside, the garden is serenity at its finest. Go there. Enjoy! Absolutely amazing.

*if I do receive any further info I will update here

UPDATE 1st July ’09:

I received an email from Denis Mc Carthy of Dublin Castle with this information ‘copied from an OPW publication Dublin Castle Art by Róisín Kennedy.’

** I really do appreciate Denis getting back to me but – Once again it’s a pity it is not available online for the world [wide web] to see [and not in PDF format btw please ‘if’ it is]

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update #2 1st July ’09:

this update comes courtesy of Keith Nolan – as keith explained he eventually goes into that garden – that said the information is amazing. Thanks Keith 😉

Update 2nd July ’09:

and this beautiful overview of the lawns taken by Niamh. Thanks Niamh 😉

dubh-linn-garden courtesy niamh smith

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the garden of remembrance

I was waiting for a bus a few weeks ago. Checked the bus timetable… and with an hour an a bit to spare [coffee flask in hand] I took a stroll up O’Connell Street towards Parnell Square and into The Garden of Remembrance.

My Auntie Bridie [God bless her 🙂 ] used to take me here when I was about 6 years old… back in the day when a trip into Dublin City was a treat filled day of ice-creams in the lashing rain, sitting in an old clear plastic raincoat of hers and maybe a trip to The Savoy Cinema [if I was ‘really good!]. In hindsight, I guess this was where she went to rest her legs when I had her worn out!

To the park… 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 and where a little tranquility is the order of the day…. this is a little gem.

Designed by Daithí Hanley to commemorate “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom”. It was opened in 1966. The main statue by Oisín Kelly of The Children of Lir [love that story] is to symbolise birth and ressurection.

The Garden commemorates insurgents from various uprisings, including the 1798 rebellion, the 1803 rebellion of Robert Emmet, the 1848 rebellion of Young Ireland, the 1867 rising, the 1916 Easter Rising and the war of independence.

I could be critical of the plants… but I won’t. As a park it is genius. Well maintained overall, clean tidy and a little bit of new with the glass of the Parnell Square entrance. It is that one painting that you could stare at for hours…. and here there are so many of them to see.