Archive for June, 2011

Fairyland

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
dropI get a lot of opportunities, through work and play, to converse with the many visitors who are drawn to North Clare, for the world famous traditional music in Doolin or the lore of the magic in the Burren. Americans, particularly those of Irish descent, are always curious as to how I can live and work here. My grandparents left Cork and Kerry in 1907 and through them, I received my Irish citizenship in 2005.   But, as I always tell people, if you can live here, why not? It’s an amazing corner of the world, unique in it’s natural beauty, history and culture.

 

One of my favorite drives is  up the spectacular coast road through Fanore to the Khyber Pass. The crystal clear Caher River  gently spills over little waterfalls as it cut the limestone canyon, now dotted with colorful Burren wildflowers. Further upstream, The Caher Bridge Garden is nestled into a little spot by a 19th century bridge.

 

 

 Imagine transforming a rock landscape, covered with black thorn trees, and brambles into a lush acre of flowers and plants. Bringing in 1,000 tons of topsoil, moving the rocks to build the dry stone walls and a vision in building an oasis that compliments and respects the surrounding landscape is extraordinarily hard work. I was getting tired thinking of it! ball

redBut, listening to Carl Wright’s  story of renovating his 200 year old stone cottage and then designing and working on the gardens was so inspiring that I was awestruck as we followed him into a wonderland of color and scents.  It has taken him 12 years to create his masterpiece and it’s still a work in progress. Many of the plants are native to Ireland, as are the yellow water lillies and a rare river grass that is only found in 3 places in the world. Orchids of all colors grow as weeds scattered throughout the many terraces. In early spring this is home to the largest collection of snowdrops in Ireland. Native Ash, Hawthorne and Holly trees are not only used as borders but as living sculptures. As you look through the limbs of a knarled, rambling Ash you view the neighboring limestone plateau that shelters this little bit of paradise from the mighty gales coming off the Atlantic. A beautiful, natural sculpture, perfectly placed.

 As I was leaving through the rose covered gate I thought that of all the gardens I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and this is one of the finest. Wait, was that a  fairy scurrying through the ferns?!  Again I ask,  if you can live here, why not? Indeed!                                                                       rose-cropped

Catch the bubble!

Friday, June 17th, 2011

bubbles-3-cropped

Ah, to be this free on a summer’s day in the woods. Chasing bubbles, splashing in the swimming hole, catching fireflies and singing by the campfire. Summer is here, or was on my recent visit to the US.

 Back in Ireland and I’m sitting here in a flannel shirt and quilted vest by the fire, listening to a dismall weather forecast.  Like they say, “you don’t come to ireland for the weather!”  But, no bother, for now the sun is shining and I’m happy to be back in this country of amazing and breathtaking beauty. This morning a gorgeous pheasant flew by the window and a new born donkey came to say hello last night, drawn in by the light  in the window. The garden is sprouting new veg. every day and it’s time for creating some summer delectables to share with you. For now it’s off to the Farmers Markets to gather some ingredients for dinner. On Fridays there’s Ennis in Clare and Kinvara in Galway and on Saturdays, there’s the Doolin and Ennistymon markets. All offer a wide variety of fresh local produce, veg.,fish, meats and even handcrafts. check out www.clarefocus.ie for what’s going on this weekend. Up the Banner!