Category Archives: touring

Drumlane Community Garden

with Declan

After a well-deserved night’s sleep at the Seven Horse Shoes Hotel in Belturbet, Declan brought me to Drumlane community centre to visit the garden.  Drumlane is primarily a rural parish which includes a small part of Belturbet town. The community centre was built five years ago and has been paid for mainly by community fund-raising. It now provides a childcare service and a myriad of sports and community facilities, as well as being home to the Drumlane Sons of O’Connell GAA club. A patch of unused GAA club land adjacent to a children’s play area and the football pitch has been developed in to a thriving community garden.  November is not a great time to visit but this video gives a flavour of the garden in full bloom.

Member numbers have increased every year since the first gardening course was run by my host, Declan Fitzpatrick, in 2008. That year 14 Continue reading


Day 16: 150 km, four minced pies, three coffees, one puncture and 1000km reached under a Cavan full-moon.

I hadn’t planned any more 140km+ stages on the cycle since doing Dunmore East to Cork city in a day. That nearly killed me. But when my planned visit to the Organic Centre in Leitrim didn’t work out, I had to improvise.  I decided to rest on the second half of day 15, relaxing and reading the weekend papers in a pub in Kilala.  I’d stay the night with Arlene in Crossmolina again and try to make it to Belturbet in Cavan in a day. This was the route I took:

I was chatting to a woman in a shop in Carrigallen in Leitrim (near Belturbet) that evening and I was telling her where I’d come from. She didn’t believe me for a while and then told me that she’d be knackered if she’d driven that distance.

It was frosty and bitter cold first Continue reading

Scoil Bhride Community & School Garden, Shantalla, Galway City

This primary school visit in Galway was a real pleasure.  Adrian Carey, one of the support teachers, showed me around the excellent garden project on the school grounds and I got a chance to meet a group of sixth class pupils to tell them all about my adventures and hear about their experience and opinions of the garden.

with the pupils in 6th class

I was then invited to meet some of the other teachers at break time and got treated to some tea and cakes by the charming school tea lady.  A really enjoyable visit.

The garden is unique in a number of ways.  One is that it is a joint community and school garden.  The school is located on the west side of Galway city; it has disadvantaged status and hence qualifies Continue reading

Ballybane Community Garden

The Ballybane Community Organic Garden is organised through the Ballybane/Mervue Community Development Project (CDP). It was set up in 2006 by the Galway Healthy Cities Forum (Galway City Development Board). The project is funded by RAPID, Health Promotion Services, HSE West and City of Galway VEC. 

with Gerry Folan, member of the Ballybane garden on Thursday

The garden is on council land that was previously derelict.  But because the site is right beside a reservoir the council had some concerns about damage to underground pipes.  They initially gave just a small site for the garden and when  Continue reading

Gort Community Garden and Co-op

Even though I’d visited the community farm and Ecovillage in Cloughjordan (see previous post) on the morning  I was leaving for Gort, I still thought that I had plenty of time to make it there before dark.  But it turned out that I’d completely misjudged the distance and when I got to Portumna, where the Shannon meets Lough Derg, and thought I was over half-way there, I’d only covered about one-third Continue reading

Scariff Community Garden and Transition Town

If Community Gardens are about a vision for a more sustainable future based on local food production and strong, resilient communities, then Scariff is very

local artists helping to create an inspiring space at the garden

much in the process of implementing that vision.  The Community Garden there was set up five years ago with the help of my host in Scariff, Brendan.  The initial intention was to create a social space to help in the integration of people with special needs in the community and a place to grow food for locals in the town.  The core group involved in the garden at first has changed considerably over Continue reading

Mayfield Community Arts Centre Garden

The Mandala of Community Gardens (see previous post on CorkSimon gardens) project in Cork city coincided with the renovation of the arts centre in Mayfield.  A grant was provided by a private donor to develop the garden in to a space for the community as part of the renovations.  Local people were asked to participate in the design of the garden and workshops were held to bring peoples’ ideas together.  Eimer and Claire, two external members of the Mandala project, brought groups and volunteers to Mayfield to work on the garden including a group from the permaculture course in Kinsale and gradually the garden took shape.

Individual projects were also developed around the garden such as a willow sculpture class and a cob oven Continue reading

Day 5: Ecstasy to agony and back again

I left Dunmore East at 8am yesterday.  Hector woke me up and helped me to loosen up the stiff body and overcome the icy backroads out of town.  This is what lay ahead.

140km of road to Cork city, by far the longest stage of the cycle yet and probably one of the longest that I’ll do overall.  I was averaging about 23km per hour so far so I knew it would take me the best part of the day.  I’d also been told that the scenery was great on the coast road between Dunmore and Dungarvin.  The weather was perfect for cycling, cold but really Continue reading

Newpark Close Community Garden, Kilkenny

This prize-winning garden in Kilkenny is a cross community programme between the Newpark Close and Hebron Park housing estates, two disadvantaged parts of the city with a traditional rivalry.

It came about when the community committee in Newpark Close applied for funding under the RAPID program for a LTI (Local Training Initiative).  A group of local men, most of whom were long-term unemployed, applied to take part in a twenty week course in Vocational Employment Skills (Level 3 Major award) which included a horticulture module.  The city council agreed to give the course participants access to a piece of land on the edge of the estate in Newpark Close which had been used as a dumping ground in the past. The land was fenced off and the guys developed a community garden from scratch with the help of their horticulture teacher.

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The group was made up of ten guys from each of the Continue reading

Day 1: Shit, my pedals are falling off.

The day started well, I set off at around 10.30am.  There is a steep climb out of Eniskerry up towards Roundwood which, in hindsight, wasn’t a great place to start as I didn’t get much of a warm up before the climb.  The first hour was tough and it took me a bit of time to get used to the drag caused by the added weight of the panniers on the back of the bike. But about an hour in, the road leveled off and I was settled in to a nice rhythm. Marion Finucane was interviewing a guy who’d been adopted at birth and found out in his twenties that his birth father was Phil Lynott, and there was peace in the valley.  Peace, that is, until my pedals started to fall off! Continue reading