The first Galway Garden Festival, which will take place on Saturday July 10 and Sunday July 11, promises to be a very special weekend.
‘In Praise of Plants’ is the theme of world-renowned Dr Matthew Jebb’s talk which will take place on the Sunday in the beautifully restored hall of Claregalway Castle. The theme of plants, their care and cultivation, will be discussed by other distinguished speakers including writer Tim Robinson and ecologist Dr Cillian Roden.
Prof David Jeffrey — who has published extensively on the unique botany of the Burren — will present ‘Explaining the Burren’. These presentations are limited to an audience of 100 people and tickets will be available on a first come basis on the day. Naturalist Gordon D’Arcy will show how to draw birds (remember to bring pencils and paper ). Gardening expert and writer Klaus Laitenberger will demonstrate how to create a beautiful garden, in addition to launching his new book .
Nursery suppliers from across Ireland will share a wealth of planting experience with all who browse the plant stalls’ extensive range of plants, trees, seeds, and shrubs. Garden equipment, from hoes to glasshouses to woven willow baskets, will be available.
The work of organisations such as Bóthar, The Beekeepers Federation, and The Organic Centre, Co Leitrim, can be appreciated at the stands in the castle grounds.
Local garden designer Shirley Hope-Sweeney will be on site all weekend.
A variety of food and drink will be available in the grounds of the early 15th century castle all day Saturday and Sunday. The castle — one of the earliest De Burgo tower houses — has been saved from near collapse by a gradual restoration programme which began in 2003. It now houses a collection of furniture from late 16th and early 17th centuries, which can be viewed during the festival. Visitors can sit on the banks of the Clare River in the lush greenery of Claregalway Castle between expert talks or accompany their kids as they ride Connemara ponies on Saturday .
All profits from the entrance fee (€5 for adults ) goes to the wonderful and transformative work of the Christian Blind Mission Ireland, www.CBM.ie, which works to alleviate and prevent avoidable blindness throughout the developing world, with emphasis on creating sustainable and locally delivered services. The apples on the tree you might buy at The Galway Garden Festival will be all the sweeter, knowing buying that tree helped save a child’s sight.