Galway is blessed with gardens. Both city and county glow quite green with them. They can be public or private and come in many shapes, sizes, contents and purposes.
From walled gardens in Kylemore, Connemara to Woodville near Kilchreest, and on to Bridget’s Garden near Moycullen, or back to the Organ Donor Garden beside Salthill Prom, sure we are spoiled for choice.
BY PEADAR O’DOWD
Throw in the countless private gardens, blooming, not just when annual Tidy Town and Best Garden competitions judges come to view, and you see why many Galwegians delight in never washing green off rather special fingers.
One dedicated private garden in particular deserves mention as these words appear. Known not just locally, but internationally also, Lorna’s Garden in Ardcarraigh, Bushypark, is the dream in every gardener’s eye.
For Lorna MacMahon, a Redwood giant amongst Irish gardeners, has turned a once untidy wasteland, filled with granite rocks and lacking true top soil into a thing of beauty, winning both the Bord Fáilte Competition and National Garden Association’s best private garden award in Ireland, among many others.
The garden started 44 years ago covering originally only one acre, but has since grown in size and stature into over four acres of designed delights, under the expert guidance of Lorna, who holds a Diploma in Horticulture from the Royal Horticultural Society of England.
Needless to say, her expert design has been governed by the natural landscape as indicated by the local names of Bushypark and Ardcarraig (High Rock). Today, her garden includes a stream, pools, bogland, rocky outcrops and even a hazel woodland, all filled with flora to suit each situation.
When the property was purchased by the MacMahons in 1971, there was no boundary fencing and only two trees. The back area of the garden was purchased later in several pieces and at different times. It originally consisted of a newly-built house, a hazel woodland, a stream, and a boggy field.
A number of separate gardens have since been made in clearings in the hazel woods, and in all, today, seventeen ‘garden’ areas greet the eye.
They consist of a Front Garden with heathers and various bulbs. There’s a Grass Border filled with ornamental grasses of many varieties. The Terracotta Garden is a formal sunken garden complete with old mill wheel.
A Back Area is designed to blend with the natural landscape, while including plants from other countries. The Mary O’Connor Garden is named in memory of a friend of Lorna, with more plants blending with a view over Lough Corrib.
Steps now lead you down to the Primula Pool, around which moisture-loving plants thrive. The Top Stream Section contains like plants. The Bog Field also contains moisture-loving plants with heathers in their element here. A small connecting garden with Acers to the fore lead to The Lower Stream area, planted with colourful autumn trees.
Next we meet the Fernery and Hosta Garden, before leaving Ireland for Japan, as we enjoy the main Japanese Section complete with lantern and granite rock in the shape of Mount Fuji.
Next comes Harry’s Garden in memory of Lorna’s late husband, filled with plants provided by friends in his memory, set among more granite outcrops, pools and stream. The Oak Garden comes next, with emphasis again on a Japanese theme.
The carpeted Moss Garden soon beckons, followed by The Madden Garden in memory of Mary Joe and Charlie Madden, who supplied most of the original plants. Directly behind the house one comes to the Patio and Herb Garden, laid out in the formal garden style with herbs related to Shakespeare’s plays and the Bible.
Finally, you arrive at the Dwarf Conifer Section, to complete a magnificent walk through what is really a feast of gardening delights.
In this brief ramble through Lorna’s Garden, one can easily understand the amount of work expended in bringing this treasure to our view, and, of course, it is an ongoing task to keep it at its best, especially when winters come to do their worst. Nevertheless, Lorna, thankfully, has opened her garden to the public for over 31 years now, and sadly, this year, because of the work involved, it will be her last.
These Garden Open Days, held on the last three Sundays in May in recent years, are all in aid of the Galway Mental Health Association, raising between €12,000 – €20,000 annually – Lorna is a founder member of the Galway branch. Admittance is only €5, and plants are also on sale for this good cause.
You can treat yourself to something rather special if you come along next Sunday, May 31st, between 2-6 pm. In this regard, Lorna offers a special thanks to the Galway Flower & Garden Club, whose members have helped so much in the running of these special days down through the years.
For her many efforts, Lorna, who has been a garden designer, judge, lecturer, demonstrator, writer, columnist, and horticultural therapist in the Psychiatric Unit of UHG, was honoured in 2006 when she received an Honorary MA from NUI, Galway.
Her garden, too, has featured widely on television, here and abroad, as well in publications worldwide – in fact it has been listed for many years in the English Good Garden Guide.
Lorna certainly has put Galway on the map in more ways than one.
A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day
Inside Track with John McIntyre
BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.
Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.
With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.
Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Greens see red on gold rush
Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.
Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.
They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.
The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.
And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.
However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure
The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.
The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.
Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.
The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.
Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.
When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.
Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.
It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.
For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.
Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.
He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.
He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.
With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.
He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.
The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.