Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Famine Garden at Newmarket Co, Kilkenny

Last Friday was yet another one of those wonderful Autumn days that shorten the winter in this part of the world. On my way from our local Horticultural College I dropped into a project we had donated some Irish yew to many years ago. This was a wonderful concept executed with dilegence and dedication by the local community in Newmarket led by Mr Christy Twomey the local schoool principal of many years.

In the decade 1841 to 1851 Ireland changed dramatically. Two million people disappeared, one million died and one million emigrated. 1851 marked the end of the potato blight, however, disease and destitution remained. Emigration peaked in 1854 and thereafter remained a fact of life in the 19th century. Community spirit is a defining characteristic of pre-famine Ireland. Communities worked together sharing food, skills and labour. This system of communal sharing without the use of money was called Meitheal or Comhar. The spirit of community pervaded through the rich culture of musicmaking, poetry and storytelling. Irish society before the famine was rich in artistic expression and social values.

This wonderful garden is well worth visiting yourself as words can not describe the journey through the garden. The poignant design features and story uncovered as you walk through the garden brings the visitor down to earth. The garden is truly a garden of rememberance and a reminder that despite current economic difficulties there were and will be bigger and more traumatic times than these in all our countries. Every turn one makes in this garden has meaning and at the end of your visit there is hope. The eternal spirit and ability of mankind to recover from disaster through community spirit is highlighted by Gáirdín an Dochas agus na Síochána (Garden of Hope and Rememberance).

"Gáirdín an Ghorta This is the garden of remembrance. The path through the garden is a metaphor for Irish history. The journey along the path is synonymous with the journey of the Irish people from pre-famine era to the future.

For anyone wanting to know how to get there or a little more about the garden there is a website. Gaírdín an Ghorta website shows the garden shortly after planting but the matured article has to be seen for yourself. The garden has matured beautifully and the Irish yews we donated are looking fantastic and were in berry when I visited. Maintenance of the Garden is meticulous. Its very easy to see that Gaírdín an Ghorta is a valued part of the community and shows great respect to the design and commitment that went into the concept from the start. Gáirdín an Ghorta (The Famine Garden) was opened on the 15th of October 1999. I visited by coincidence 10 years later to the day. It has matured into a tiny national treasure giving testament to a momentues and history changing event for many people around the world whose ansectors fled a God foresaken land. This all hidden away in a small country village in County Kilkenny.

You can find a video tour posted here.!/video/?id=1817283211


  1. Very interesting, educative article, thank you! That garden of remembrance is special.

  2. Beautiful and very thought provoking.

  3. Such a beautiful garden. I have been fortunate to visit some of the small towns in County Kilkenny. It remains one of my favorite destinations.

  4. Wow - what a beautiful post, Patrick. As I mentioned before - I'm trying to arrange a visit to your part of the world next year with my family and my parents and will definitely try and visit this garden. It seems truly amazing....

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