Gardens and gardening have never been so popular and the brand new Clew Bay Garden Trail is set to become a significant garden related tourist attraction for the Westport area. Deputy Michael Ring, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, performed the official launch of the Clew Bay Garden Trail and its accompanying brochure last Friday at the Connacht Gold Garden Centre. The first gardens open to the public this weekend.
The Clew Bay Garden Trail is a chain of private gardens in Westport and the surrounding area which will open to the public on selected days during the summer of 2012. The gardens range from well-established to newly-created and from compact town plots to 2 acre expanses. Some are organic, some designed for wildlife, some mostly vegetable and some a profusion of flowers.
Speaking at the launch Minister Ring was hugely enthusiastic and complimentary about the Garden Trail saying, “The Clew Bay Garden Trail is a wonderful idea which is a welcome addition to the tourism structure in the most beautiful town in the country. These fourteen pioneering gardeners deserve thanks and recognition for opening their gardens to the public”.
Fourteen gardens are included in the first year of the Clew Bay Garden Trail. The gardens are open to the public on specific days between June and September. Entry is free of charge but donations to charities are cordially requested.
The Clew Bay Garden Trail is a natural progression of other garden-related activities in the Westport area. “The Trail is a natural follow on from the first ever Entente Florale floral competition in 1992 which in turn led to the formation of Westport Gardening Club and ultimately to the Clew Bay Garden Trail”, said committee member Máiréad de Bùrca. Máiréad’s garden in Rosmalley is included on the trail as are those of the other two organising committee members, Cormac Langan (Westport College of Further Education) and June Bourke (Clogher).
The other gardens on the trail are: Barbara Balfe (Murrisk), Chris Smith (Clogher), Deirdre Cosgrove (Streamstown), Evleen Mulloy (Lower Quay), Gemma Hensey (The Quay), Genie Keating (Cloghan), Meike Blackwell (Newport), Sally & Peter Churcher (Liscarney), Wendy Stringer & Denis Daly (Knappaghmore), Vincent & Manita van Dulmen (Partry) and Frank Steffens (Tourmakeady).
The first three gardens will open to the public on the June Bank Holiday Weekend. On Saturday, June 3 Evleen Mulloy’s garden is open from 2pm to 5pm. On Bank Holiday Monday two Clogher gardens open their gates: Chris Smith’s from 12 noon to 3pm and June Bourke’s from 12 noon to 5pm. The proceeds of the visit to June Bourke’s garden will be donated to the Westport/Aror (Kenya) Partnership.
All of the gardeners look forward to meeting visitors and kindred spirits during their open days. Full details of how to find the gardens together with the dates and hours they are open are on the Facebook page (clewbay gardentrail) and on the brochure which will be available in the Westport Tourist Information Office.