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Gardening made easy: novel idea takes root

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Lifestyle  – JUDY MURPHY finds  how the recession has  helped a hobby become  a thriving business

After father-of-four Eoin Flaherty lost his job during the economic crash, his life took a new and unexpected direction.

Eoin has drawn on his love of gardening to create a new product designed to make fruit and vegetable growing easier, for beginner and experienced gardener alike.

There’s nothing like it on sale in Ireland, or anywhere else in Europe, says Headford based Eoin, who shakes his head in disbelief as he describes how simple his GrowGrid mat is.

He had developed a series of polypropylene mats, which have holes pre-punched in them, with the distance between the holes varying in size to cater for different types of fruit and veg. Mats are designed to allow people to grow a mix of vegetables in a small area – everything from potatoes to spinach and strawberries, with holes for the seeds or plant plugs.

The GrowGrid mats, which come in large and small sizes, might be simple in design but they are highly effective, as a walk around his beautifully ordered garden in Ballycasey, outside Headford demonstrates.

There are several raised beds where herbs including lovage, curry and parsley are thriving, while garlic is also doing well. The potatoes are slower than usual, he says, but that’s because of the weather.

Further down there’s a polytunnel, where the mats are laid out in perfect symmetry and a range of food – strawberries, celery, chard, tomatoes, peas, beans and lettuce – are all in various stage of growth.

The holes in the GrowGrid mats are heat sealed to stop the fabric from fraying and the big advantage is that the membrane prevents weeds from growing so the plant is not competing with them for light or nutrients. 

Eoin, who is originally from Inis Mór on the Aran Islands, was always interested in food. After school, he trained as a chef at the then RTC in Galway and gained extensive experience in the hospitality industry, working in restaurants from Roly’s Bistro in Dublin, to Park House here in Galway.

But when the property boom came, he changed careers and went into the construction industry. He was newly married and the father of a small family and needed a change.  Working as a chef, with long and often late hours, is not a family friendly occupation, he says.

“I had a great career and worked at the higher end of it, but it’s a young man’s game. We were married, and both working shifts, so something had to give.”

However, like thousands of others, Eoin was left without a job when the property bubble burst. His wife, Catriona, is a nurse, so they made the pragmatic decision that, rather than returning to cheffing, he would become a stay-at-home father, while Catriona continued to work.

That’s when the idea for the pre-punched GrowGrid mats first came about.

Eoin had been growing vegetables all his life, except for the period when he was working fulltime, when he was too busy. But once he decided to stay at home, he returned to gardening – the family home is on a three-quarter acre site, which offered plenty of scope. However, a combination of bad weather, which saw weeds flourish, and having four small children to mind, left him strapped for time.

He originally put the matting down around copper beech to inhibit weed growth and it was then he realised its potential in the vegetable patch, as did other people who saw it.

“So I developed the pre-punched matting myself.  It’s much the same as membranes you’d put on soil except for the holes. There are four different spaces depending on what you want to grow.”

The mats are made of treated polypropylene and each will last up to five years if properly maintained, but he has several that are older than that. Each one comes with biodegradable pegging which secure the mat onto the ground. The small ones are 1.5 metres wide and 2.2 metres long while the large ones are the same width and are four metres long.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Ceramic artist who found her creative home in Galway

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Tatiana Dobos...creative space in Galway.

A ceramic artist who made her home in Galway a decade ago is one of twelve creative pioneers to feature in a new series of abstract short films available for viewing on the TG4 Player.

Samhlú Croí Cruthaitheach is a season of twelve commissioned abstract short films featuring artists and creatives – among them Moldovan born Galway-based ceramic artist Tatiana Dobos.

Tatiana was born in 1982 in Bujor, and studied all kinds of ‘numbers’ till she was 27, when she discovered clay accidentally while doing sculpture in an art studio.

She describes it as being like arriving home for the first time. She had to quit my job, erase everything she studied and start her forever journey with clay which, since then, is a constant learning and discovering process.

She came to Ireland in 2010, and Galway felt like home from the first walk on its streets.

“Ten years later I can say that Galway is the true and only home to me,” she says.

“My studio is located in Knocknacarra, very close to the sea where I cycle almost every day for refreshing swims, and also close to Barna Woods, a place for reflection and reconnection. It feels really inspiring to be so close to Connemara and Burren, places that invite to rediscovering oneself,” she adds.

From her little studio, Tatiana creates ceramic artworks inspired by human emotions.

She seeks to materialize in her works the mechanisms of the inner battles, at the same time exploring the anatomy of the aftermath.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land, Sea and Mind at heart of Kinvara show

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Some of the works from a new exhibition by Patrick Kenneally, set for the KAVA Courthouse Gallery in Kinvara

An exhibition of new work by artist Patrick Kenneally opens at the KAVA Courthouse Gallery in Kinvara, on Saturday week and runs until Sunday, August 8, from 10am to 4pm daily.

Of Land, Sea and Mind is a new series of oil paintings by the artist which is inspired by the mind’s adaptation and reaction to the restrictions placed on the mind and body by lockdowns over the past year.

“As an artist, being in and with the landscape is a vital stimulation for the creative process. You listen to the silence and vastness of the Burren. You take in the salty air of the Atlantic breeze,” he explained.

“The mind, without the direct stimulation of the environment you are so used to being in, will stitch you a new patchwork of colours, compositions and perspectives based on memory, thoughts and feelings. These “mindscapes” allow me to revisit the places that are restricted to me,” he added.

The paintings are a reflection of the self in isolation; a boat on the horizon, a windswept tree in the Burren, a single cloud in the sky, a rolling wave. The self is not present in the landscape but is present with the landscape.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway-made box office hit returns home to Film Fleadh

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Galway hit…a scene from Two by Two Overboard!

A Galway-made animation movie which outshone the big-budget studios at the box office is making a homecoming of sorts this weekend – in the open air.

Two by Two Overboard!, produced in Galway by Moetion Films, was the number one film at the UK box office in November 2020.

The film has also proved a big hit at home with top three spots in all Irish cinema during Christmas 2020.

This weekend, Galway audiences will be treated to a special showing during the Galway Film Fleadh on Saturday at noon, in the specially constructed open-air cinema located in Father Burke Park.

Distributed by eOne Entertainment, the film opened in multiple locations across the UK in late October 2020 – but now as restrictions ease, it is set for release in France, Spain, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Estonia and elsehwere.

Made in 3D animation, the film tells the story of young Nestrian Finny and his best mate Leah, a Grymp, who accidently fall off Noah’s ark and are swept out to sea.

Adrift on a flood, the two misfit castaways struggle to reunite an unorthodox family, out-run a volcano, and negotiate a peace deal on a creaking Ark.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

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