What started out four years ago, as in most people's eyes, a unique opportunity to see the wonderfully-restored Claregalway castle, has turned into one of the must-attend festivals in the west and also into one of the leading horticultultural events in the country. And this weekend, the Galway Garden Festival is back for round four.
The festival promises to be another special event. All gate profits go to www.cbm.ie and The Galway Simon Community .
This year includes the first gardeners' competition which gives gardeners a chance to show their creative flair and design a planter pot. Diarmuid Gavin will judge and award the prizes for each category. Details of this are available on http://www.galwaygardenfestival.com and http://www.gardencentre.ie
On Saturday, July 6, Winners of the 'Best Modern Garden in France' Sylvie and Patric Quibel, le Jardin Plume, Normandy are travelling to Galway to speak about their garden.
Breton gardener Tanguy de Toelgoet will speak on cultivating a potager garden and will be joined by orchid specialist Brendan Sayers, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.
On Sunday, July 7, speakers include the poet John F Deane (1.30pm ) and Dom Anthony Keane OSB, Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick (3.30pm ), who will bring a unique perspective to this festival.
A variety of nurseries and garden suppliers from across Ireland will offer a range of plants, trees, seeds, shrubs, herbs, tools, baskets, pots, garden furniture, art work and equipment.
Expert craftspeople including stone masons, blacksmiths and weavers will be present to demonstrate and advise on their crafts.
Birdwatch Ireland, The Irish Seedsavers, The Organic Centre, Rossinver, the Green Sod Land Trust, GIY Ireland and other impressive organisations will be there to advise and share a range of knowledge and experience.
An extensive range of gardening books, botanical art books etc will be available in the bookshop.
Last year's highlights included the botanical art exhibition and this year, it will be even better as more artists will show their work.
Music is a key feature of the festival each year and The Summer Music Opera Ensemble, The West Coast Jazz Band, St. Patrick's Brass Band, The Army Band of Western Command will all be playing during this festival.
Local food, traders, and entertainment
Freshly cooked food and drinks are available each day. Children's entertainment will keep kids busy, leaving parents time to enjoy the event.
Made In Galway is a new feature in this year's festival where local craftspeople and artists showcase their work - the quality of exhibits here will really be of interest to a wide audience www.madeingalway.ie Claregalway Castle is an early 15th century castle – one of the earliest De Burgo Tower houses – and has been saved from near collapse by a gradual restoration programme which began in 2003.
Festival admission is just €7 allowing people to support some of the Irish-based traders and food suppliers who have travelled from near and far to be at the festival.
Why not leave the car at home and travel in comfort by train to Galway Ceannt Station - book early for the best rail fares available on www.irishrail.ie A free return courtesy bus will run from Galway Ceannt Railway Station to the festival each day, starting at 10.30am and every hour thereafter. (Free parking facilities also available )
The Garden Festival is a truly wonderful event. Go along and see for yourself. For more information on the Galway Garden Festival, www.galwaygardenfestival.com or email [email protected] galwaygardenfestival.com