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Céad Míle Fáilte Go Dtí An Gairdín Beo

7 July 2017

South Central


Céad Míle Fáilte Go Dtí An Gairdín Beo



The Gairdín Beo is on a two acre site adjacent to St. Leo’s Convent, Carlow.  In 2014 the opportunity came to respond to the cry of the earth, when the Mercy South Central Province generously made the site available to be protected and preserved as a green space and a Community Garden.

A group of four local Mercy Sisters reflected on how best to proceed.  It was agreed to invite likeminded, enthusiastic and talented local people to form a committee and to dream together.  The vision that evolved from this group is of a space in which diverse people can connect more to nature, to the growing and the making of food and to each other.

The ethos is based on an ecological orientation, on valuing diversity, sustainability, organic methods and indigenous species.


This vision is becoming a reality

Through the commitment and effort of the committee and volunteers the area was made safe and accessible.
•    Every September the Intercultural Forum have their celebrations in the garden.
•    The Food Festival is celebrated annually.
•    A harvest sharing event is organised.
•    Sixteen raised beds are in place and will be planted organically by various groups this spring.
•    A tunnel has been erected and is in use.
•    In 2016 we celebrated the 1916 event.
•    An integrated water system is being developed.
•    A generator has been installed.
•    A cob oven is the process of being built.
•    Students from the local schools have been busy planting.
•    The Youth Services organised an Easter egg hunt for children this Easter.
•    A Therapeutic – restorative garden is a work in progress.
•    A volunteer architect has drawn up plans and designs for the two buildings on site.


A great sense of community and bonding has happened among all involved in the garden.  Good humour and a spirit of give and take have kept the group united and energised.

The work to date has been made possible through the dedication of volunteers, grants and donations.


The following are the individual reflections of some committee members and volunteers on their vision for An Gairdín Beo.

“My vision for An Gairdín Beo:
A peaceful refuge to go and reflect
A gardener’s paradise to produce crops for the community
A place for the younger generation to continue the work of the present day volunteers.”

(D. B.)


“I envisage the garden as a beautiful living breathing tranquil and reflective space in the heart of Carlow town.  A Space where wild life, nature and humans can share and appreciate each other’s existence.”
(H. B.)

“An Gairdín Beo needs to be self-sustainable.
Here are some suggestions:
Coffee mornings, cookery demonstration classes, floral craft, garden workshops etc.
Recruit people with expertise from community schemes to help out in different areas.”

(F. P.)

“I visualise the garden as a haven for our native pollinators.  It will also be a centre for engaging and educating the public on the importance of protecting and promoting biodiversity and the pollinators.  The garden will also facilitate people’s reconnection with nature as well as connecting people to each other through community events.  The garden will be a thriving ecosystem that has a beehive as its beating heart.  Finally, the garden will be a source of positivity and a force for good within our community.”
(R. C.)

“My experience of the garden since I came to Ireland is of the dedication of many volunteers working together to create a beautiful place in Carlow where local people and visitors can enjoy nature within walking distance of the town.”

“To preserve and protect a Green Space, to provide a safe habitat for our native species, to build community at all levels” 
M. C.

An Gairdín Beo is a centre of welcome for all irrespective of race, colour, creed, or age who wish to be nourished in body, mind and soul.


“A garden where interested and like-minded groups meet, share their hopes dreams and concerns for our “common home” the earth and come to believe that as Thomas Berry so eloquently expressed it :

“The earth is not a collection of objects but a community of subjects”
“The human community and the earth community together form a single sacred community”


•    “An Gairdin Beo will be a productive community area for growing food, a quiet, contemplative outdoor space and meeting place for educational and social activities.

•    It will bring people of all ages, nationalities and differing socio-economic backgrounds together to enjoy growing food, sharing knowledge and new skills and generally being sociable.

•    Both the growing area and the quiet space will benefit positive mental and physical health through being outdoors and at one with nature.”
M. D.

•    “I envisage that the healing garden within An Gairdín Beo will become a designated space within the urban centre of Carlow, where through directly engaging with and being in nature, it will offer opportunities to all community members for quiet time; reflection and contemplation; connection; restoration; and the opportunity to promote, support and maintain psychological, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing.


“In fifteen years I would hope the garden would be widely used by Carlow community.  A place where people could walk and browse through the garden and rest and contemplate on the beauty of nature.  Where others could learn basic growing skills and learn to prepare food for themselves.  Maybe a coffee shop where people could relax and socialise.” 
M. R.

Mary Carmody rsm
Bernie O'Rourke rsm
South Central Province

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