Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Coming this fall:
Brigit's Garden Global Community

It’s been a great few months since our new Visitor Centre opened in May and we launched into another wonderful summer of events, visitors, teas and coffees, cheeky robins, wild flowers and lots of natural beauty.

The thing that stands out the most is the diversity of people who move through the gardens, their motivation for coming here and what connects all of us together.  We have met delighted children, artists, Brigit pilgrims, people travelling from abroad specially to come to the gardens, people simply following the roads signs and lots of local families.
We find that people want to share their experience of nature, their joy at getting a bit of time out, and their responses to the gardens.
From September onwards we want to use this blog to weave together all the threads of Brigit’s Garden magic:

  •   To share your response to the gardens and their symbolism
  •   To share related thoughts about Celtic spirituality and the Brigit tradition
  •   To weave together people’s stories from across the globe
  •   To inspire each other about connection with nature, environmental awareness, and practical ways to meet spiritual needs in the 21st century
If you would like to contribute we would be delighted to hear from you.


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Home Stretch

Roof?  CHECK!  Floors?  CHECK!  Windows?  CHECK!

Our floors are drying!
The relaunch is two weeks away, and so close we can almost touch it!  As you can imagine, things are a little hectic right now.  We've got the floors drying, the computers up and [nearly] running, fans going, saws going, hammers going...we can't even find Jenny.  She's being pulled in so many directions that she'll have grown a few inches when this is all over!

The flower wall
It's amazing to see the progress that has been made in a few short months.  We have gone from concrete foundations to walls, roof, windows, and floors.  Our new build is beginning to look like we all envisaged from the plans.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but things are starting to really take shape.  Once the varnish on the floors dries, we can start the creative (for us) part:  decorating!  We'll be arranging tables in the new Garden Café, watching Caroline and Lisa unpack all the gorgeous new merchandise for the shop, and hanging pictures in the Visitor Centre.

In the midst of this madness, we're holding a meitheal on Saturday, April 28th from 11am-5:30pm.  A meitheal (pronounced meh-hel) is the Irish word for a working group of neighbours that help each other in turn with farming work.  The spirit of our meitheal is the same:  getting a group of people from the community to help around the garden painting, planting, sanding, etc... It's a fantastic opportunity to meet people and it's great craic to boot!  If you have a few hours to spare, stop in and lend a hand.  We'd love to have you, and you'll get a sneak peek at the new building!

And if anyone sees Jenny, can you tell her that the contractor needs her...and the electrician...and the roofer...and the computer guy...and the shop manager...and the ...

Remember:  Relaunch weekend 
May 5th-7th  11am-5:30pm

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Fergal Quinn, where are you?

Getting to the painting stage - exciting
Sometimes it feels as if we are in one of the business make-over shows you see on TV. We have all the familiar OMG moments - excitement alternating with anxiety, worry about budget over-runs, moments thinking we are crazy and will never be ready to re-open on time... and also times like today when the sun shone, the garden glowed and everything seemed possible. Unlike the TV shows,however, Fergal Quinn or the Brennan brothers aren't here to help. We have to do it ourselves. 

Wood anemones - I love 'em
We may not have a TV mentor, but we've got a great staff team, a good contractor and lots of other help. And the Garden is a beautiful and comforting presence. When the noise and stresses of building get too much a short walk in the old woodland where the starry white wood anemones are in bloom restores the soul wonderfully. The build continues to fly along - in goes an enormous treatment plant, in goes an equally huge soak-away area, in come painters and electricians, and we move into our bright new office at the weekend. There is still lots to do to get the Gardens ready for opening at Easter, but hey, the sun is shining, we'll manage somehow. And plans for the big Re-launch Weekend are coming along - keep watching this space!
The treatment plant goes in - a very big hole

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Survey button
With our new build going on, all sorts of things are changing in Brigit's Garden.  Help us change them for the better!  Please take this quick, 5 minute survey and let us know what you think about Brigit's Gardens and our services.  All responses are anonymous and secure.  We want to come back better than ever!
Click the button to go to the survey.  ---->

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Beautiful spring days

Slabbing the new office
We have decided to go ahead with the Easter Egg Hunt regardless! It's such a fun event and very popular, so we have great plans for a special Easter Sunday with Easter egg hunts around the gardens and nature trail, making use of the Roundhouse, crannóg and gazebos as the new Visitor Centre won't be finished. Come and enjoy, or help as a volunteer. Click here for more details.

Luckily we all get on!
Can't wait to move into the new office - here is the slabber at work, so things are really shaping up and the end is almost in sight. Meanwhile we are all squashed into one tiny space. Luckily most staff are part-time, but if we are all in together it's cosy to say the least. That's Claire on the left, who does a lot of our marketing, and Lisa in the middle who takes care of reception and the shop. On the right is Leanne, who is in the schools team and also helps with admin.
Outside, things are temporarily getting worse rather than better with Mike busy on the digger making the new patio and digging trenches for pipes.You can see the shape of the new building behind - that's all the Café dining area with its lovely big doors, windows and Veluxes - it's going to be gorgeous!
We have some great ideas for the re-launch weekend from 5th-7th May, so watch this space...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Great progress

The sundial tells the date... well as the time
March is here. Soon it will be the spring equinox and the Northern hemisphere will flip into the light half of the year, bringing the promise of summer. Yeah!

Underfloor heating - very cosy!

Paddling in wet concrete....
Great progress on the build this week - the wiring is in, the underfloor heating is laid and the concrete for the floors poured. The car park has been extended all round and looks dramatically bigger - it will be such an asset to have more parking space.

Alison giving the herb spirals a spring clean

Our Thursday morning gardening sessions have re-started and are going great. It's fun, sociable and we need lots of help to get everything ready for the big re-launch on May 5-7th.

If you have time on your hands do drop in any Thursday morning at 10am and join the team. Many hands make light work!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The windows are in!

The new dining area - lots of glass!
The windows are in ahead of schedule, and what a difference it makes! Standing at the fabulous big glass window at the far end of the new dining area you get a wonderful view across the gardens. Can't wait to get on with the landscaping so that visitors sitting in the cafe will feel surrounded by flowers.

The promise of spring...

The new Visitor Centre is really taking shape, and there is SPACE! And still a lot of mess. With all the rain the last few days we have been paddling around, inside as well as outside.

Meanwhile the daffodils are blooming between the machinery and the piles of timber. I like daffodils, they are tough as well as beautiful. Their strong green shoots push up through frosty ground and mad February weather to bloom regardless. Wordsworth said it all:

'And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils'

Crocuses in the spring garden
The hazel catkins are out too, and the crocuses. Spring is here and summer beckons, and it's great to see the gardens coming to life again.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The walls go up

Celebrating Brigit's Eve in the Roundhouse was magical. Despite the build it felt really important to mark Imbolc/Brigit's Day, so we escorted everyone to the Roundhouse under a perfet half moon. It was a lovely evening of cross-making, drumming and Brigit ritual, perfect soul-food after the chaos of building!

The building is shooting up, and feels in tune with the cycle of the seasons - foundations laid in the winter, sudden growth in the spring and due to be ready at Bealtaine in early May. The wooden frame, complete with steel girders to support sliding doors, is suddenly there. We can get a sense of the spaces inside and it's going to be great! Meanwhile Noel and the guys are removing and re-shaping much of the old building around us- every day another wall or a bit of roof disappears, but so far our little office remains an oasis.
Paul (Munster Joinery) & builder Noel discuss windows

Someone asked me yesterday if I was going away for a couple of months while the building is in progress. Hmm, about as likely as a blue moon! The timescale is tight. We are planning a festive re-launch weekend on the May bank holiday, 5th-7th, so there is a huge amount to organise for that, plus the new shop, new cafe, new staff, events for the summer, marketing, marketing and more marketing... And decisions have to be made every day. Today it was the colour of the window frames, which way the sliding doors should open and priorities for upgrading the website, among others. We are all busy, but it's great to see things happening.

So - some dates for your diary:
Easter weekend - the Gardens will re-open on Easter Saturday, 7th April, but without the Visitor Centre
May Bank Holiday weekend 5th-7th May - razzmatazz, re-launch, craic agus ceoil!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The diggers move in

Action! The diggers move in
Today it poured with rain for hours, turning the new foundations into lakes that we had to hop and skip through to access the office. Ah the joys of building: mess everywhere, water and grit trampled through every room, banging noises and no gas in the cooker. But it's all worth it, we are going to have a fabulous new Visitor Centre by the end of April! 
Foundations for the bright new cafe seating..

This blog will be a fun way to record the ups and downs of the build, and hopefully to share the thrills of seeing the building take shape. Its exciting and a bit scary at times as Brigit's Garden takes a big leap forward.

I can also give you a peek at all the work that goes on behind the scenes as we struggle womanfully to keep the office going and prepare for the new Centre, heating our soup on camping gaz and coping with arctic draughts. I'll introduce you to the team and our plans for the future.

Right now I have to go to Oranmore to look at windows....

Monday, 23 January 2012

We are rebuilding!

Brigit's Garden is proud to announce a major development of our Visitor Centre, supported by a LEADER grant of €175,000 under the Government’s Rural Development Programme. The building works are already under way and are due to be completed by mid-April.  The new Centre will feature an attractive reception area, a larger Gift Shop and an expanded Café with conservatory-style seating overlooking the gardens. The building will be environmentally friendly and will be carefully landscaped with a new patio area, picnic areas and additional children’s play equipment.
This is an exciting development that will greatly enhance the experience for visitors while retaining the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of Brigit’s Garden. As well as providing an excellent level of service for visitors to the unique Celtic-themed gardens the new Centre will be a destination in its own right for lunches, teas and gift shopping.
Announcing the funding, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan complemented Brigit’s Garden on being ’an innovative and interesting project that is not only a significant tourist attraction in the Connemara area but is also an important education, heritage and community resource’. As Brigit’s Garden is a not-for-profit project and an educational charity the new facilities will also help us provide a vital and innovative resource for the community.
Due to the construction works the spring re-opening of the gardens will be delayed this year, and we are planning a lively re-launch weekend in late April or early May, the exact date to be confirmed.
As the Roundhouse is unaffected Sunday morning meditation continues weekly at 11am and our annual celebration of Brigit’s Eve is also going ahead on Tuesday 31st January at 7.30pm in the Roundhouse (click here for details) but there will not be a family afternoon for Brigit’s Day this year.
We look forward to keeping you in touch with developments and welcoming you to the new Visitor Centre!