Brigit’s Garden


I went on a trip to Brigit’s Garden recently with my family. This is a not-for-profit organisation and a registered charity set up by Jenny Beale out of her passion for nature and the environment. The gardens were designed by Irish landscape designer Mary Reynolds who was the first Irish person to win a gold medal at the prestigious Chelsea flower show and is arguably one of the best designers in the country. The gardens are located in Rosscahil which is just a few miles outside Galway city. They are set within an 11 acre site of native woodland and wildflower meadows and they celebrate our natural landscape in a design based on the four Irish seasons. These four gardens interconnect and take us on a journey through the Irish seasonal festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa. The gardens mirror the cycle of life from conception and birth through to old age and death.

Samhain ( Halloween ) begins on the 31st of October and marks the beginning of the yearly cycle. It is celebrated here in the winter garden (below) which pays homage to a time for death but with the promise of re-birth. It is a period of sleep and reflection which is evoked by a mound of earth that has been shaped into the sleeping body of a woman wrapped around a pool. Another figure made of bronze leaves rests on the ground in an island within the pool. She is listening to the earth, waiting for it to stir again and bring forth new life.


Photograph of Winter garden at Brigits Garden

Image taken from Pbase Gallery




Photo of Sculpture in Brigit's garden

Image taken from Stream




Imbolc is the Spring garden. This is the old Irish name for the festival that welcomes the arrival of Spring on February 1st, now known as St. Brigit’s Day. In the cycle of life, it is the garden of youth where children can play and enjoy the basketwork swings and a wildflower meadow.


Photo of swings in Brigit's Garden

Image taken from Signpost Tours




Here’s one of my photos of the Spring Garden (below) with wild flowers in full bloom.


Photo of Spring Garden by Deborah Watkins





May day heralds the festival of Bealtaine which is celebrated in the Summer Garden. This is a time of young adulthood, sexual awakenings and marriage. The garden tells the story of Diarmuid and Grainne, the fleeing lovers in Irish mythology. Their bed is a grassy hollow facing the sun and a path of standing stones leads to a throne where the lovers unite and sit together, masters of their own destinies.


Photograph of the Summer Garden in Brigit's Garden





The Autumn garden marks the festival of Lughnasa which begins in August. It is a time of harvest and celebration. Spiral beds contain herbs for cooking as well as healing (below).


Photograph of the Autumn Garden in Brigit's Garden





Two circular lawns interlink and are circled by columns of stone to allow space for dancing. There is a long table for feasting and celebration. Three yew trees mark the exit of the Lughnasa Garden which signifies the end of the cycle and the possibility of renewal which lies ahead.


Photograph of the Autumn Garden

Image taken from Stone Art Blog




There is much more to see and enjoy here as well as the four symbolic gardens. There’s a giant sun dial, a woodland walk, a living willow play area for children and a place to hang wishes (photo below).


Wishing place in Brigit's Garden





This is a view of one of the wildflower meadows from the woodland walk (below).


Photo of Wildflower Meadow





I spotted this owl in a tree (below) which I hadn’t noticed on previous visits. The unexpected is part of the magic of this place..


Photo of Owl Sculpture at Brigit's Garden





You can round off your visit as we did in the cafe which offers delicious home baked cakes! I’ll be going along again soon and I’d recommend it to anyone, especially at this time of year when the wildflowers are in full bloom.

Conamara Bog Week Exhibition

I visited an art exhibition in the National Park in Letterfrack this week as part of the annual Bog week celebrations that are held here. This year, four artists were invited to contribute to a show with the theme of the Boglands in mind. The artists in question are all living locally so just as the exhibition champions the Bog week festival, it also recognises and salutes some of the artists who live and work in this area.

This year Bog week celebrates the work of Laura Cull, Gemma Coyne, Jay Murphy and Bernie Dignam.


Sea Week Exhibition Poster



Bernie Dignam is a textile artist and printmaker whose tapestries and woven batik and silk hangings resonate a long tradition and colourfully portray the subject.

Jay Murphy presents a variety of work for this show which includes some large paintings of old boats in mixed media as well as some small square landscapes on board in rich pastel hues.

Gemma Coyne has produced a series of photographs as well as a video installation. Her photography captures her placement of wood and felted objects in the natural landscape. All of these artists have paid homage to the theme in a sympathetic and creative way through their work but I have singled out the paintings of Laura Cull here as they resonated with me especially.

Here is an example of one of Laura’s paintings below.


Painting by Laura Cull 1



I love the sinuous lines and delicate colours of these. They are so strongly evocative of the Bog but in a light and ethereal way. They make me think of precious remains – perhaps those uncovered bog bodies or some ancient fabric belonging to an old chieftan.


Painting by Laura Cull 2



Here are two more paintings below – similar textures but this time with vivid greens and browns.


Painting by Laura Cull 3



Painting by Laura Cull 4



These green paintings seem tangible and organic – perhaps some piece of ground observed under a microscope. They connect well with the blue shadowy paintings and bring diversity and depth to the collection of works on show. I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition and it continues over the holiday week end until June 4th. Go see if you can!