A green space owned by no one but engaged by all


Posted on: 9th March, 2015

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

In the midst of a housing estate in Dunmanway lies a patch of green land. On closer inspection you will notice raised beds, a willow shelter, a shed and even a polytunnel. Two years ago, this rough patch of land was given a new lease of life by locals. Under the umbrella of the Dunmanway Family Resource Centre, a grant was awarded by Safefood Ireland (one of only 10 projects funded in Ireland), a five-year lease was secured from Cork County Council and a small group of enthusiastic volunteers dug their forks and spades into the ground and set to work planting up Dunmanway Community Garden at Tonafora.

From that first seed has grown a mighty project providing a green space that is owned by no one but engaged by all. Anyone is welcome to drop by and help with gardening tasks like potting, planting or weeding or simply to enjoy the space and spend time with others. On Pancake Tuesday, Mary O’Brien had the pleasure of sharing pancakes and a cuppa with some of the volunteers. She found a group of welcoming and good-humoured, enthusiastic gardeners, eager to share this gem.


At present there are 12 regular volunteers at the Community Garden. Living just a stone’s throw away, Charlie and Maria Horgan (made famous by their daughter Veronica, a leader on Operation Transformation 2015!) devote a lot of their time to the garden’s maintenance, even committing to watering it every evening during the summer months. “We were both made redundant at around the time the project started,” says Maria “so the garden has become an important part of our lives.”

Every Tuesday morning (10.30am – 12.30pm), Angie facilitates The Sunshine Growers, a gentle gardening group that, as well as growing, provides a social gathering for people who want to garden in the company of others. “Gardening also provides companionship and gives a gentle sense of purpose to those who may be experiencing isolation, depression or who may be facing grief and loss,” explains Ita Harris, Family Support Worker at the Dunmanway Resource Centre.

The Thursday gardening group (10am-3pm) is led by Selvi and is open to anyone with an interest in organic gardening. Selvi also runs the market garden at the Hollies Centre for Sustainability and the Community Garden volunteers are very fortunate to benefit Selvi’s great knowledge and skills.  Selvi is hosting a free Growing Skills Course in the garden on Thursday mornings from 10.30am to 11.30am from the beginning of March.

Tús workers Anna and Kaisa are in the garden every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and are very happy to take any visitors on a tour or to assist new volunteers in getting involved.

Plans for spring are well underway with lots of sowing, weeding and planting happening already. Charlie, Stewart and Jerome have commenced work on a community cooking area for the garden, which will include an outdoor oven, BBQ grill and a demonstration space. Building materials have kindly been donated by local businesses. Once completed, the area will be used for community events and cookery classes using produce from the garden.

Winter salads and leafy veg like chard and kale are still happy out in the polytunnel, where the no-dig method is employed, so there are ample pickings all year round. No-dig involves adding the organic matter to the top of the beds and letting the worms, microorganisms and fungi mix the compost into the soil. Volunteers have also built a hot bed propogater in the polytunnel. “We’re experimenting with horse manure and straw at the moment, which can get too hot, but once we get the formula right, it should facilitate remarkable seed germination and growth after just a few weeks,” explains organic grower Angie.

Achievable garden projects and families growing together is what Dunmanway Community Garden is all about. “You get more out of the garden than what you put in,” says Charlie, who was instrumental in building the shed and has lent his hand willingly to any of the gardening projects.

Charlie and Selvi and Ruby and Darryl (Charlie and Maria’s grandchildren).

Charlie and Selvi and Ruby and Darryl (Charlie and Maria’s grandchildren).

Some of the past projects and events organised in the garden have included cookery and preserving classes and a Street Feast, where over 80 people came to the garden on a sunny June afternoon bringing food to share — an experience shared all over the country where local communities invited their neighbours to share lunches.

For the children, there is a sandpit, willow structure, bug hotel and of course lots and lots of earth to plant in. “The preschoolers get great enjoyment from pulling up the carrots,” says Ita laughing “we can’t plant enough of them.”

This year, the volunteers plan to plant enough potatoes and onions to keep the local Meals on Wheels group well stocked up for the winter. There are also plans for the development of an education section, which will encourage visits from local schools. A wildflower biodiverse area is to be created, and of course, a fruitful year is expected with lots of organic produce for a busy summer ahead of community events and cookery classes.

There are no set rules about what makes a community garden work. Each one is unique and just like other areas in life, there are some that gel together and some that don’t. Dunmanway Community Garden is one of the success stories. This unique group of volunteers has worked effectively together to create a productive and contemplative space to cater for the needs of their local community. All are welcome in the garden.

Latest News Articles:

Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat
Clonakilty town aims to get snowed under with the return of the Clonakilty Christmas Express
On call for Christmas
Have your say in shaping the future of Clonakilty
Dursey Island project passes first phase in Failte Ireland’s Grant Scheme

Join us on Facebook

Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
... See MoreSee Less

8th January, 2018  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Cope Foundation's Happy Christmas from Cope Foundation. ... See MoreSee Less

What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to www.cope-foundation.ie/donate. We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

18th December, 2017  ·  

This is the real spirit of Christmas at Caseys of Clonakilty. ... See MoreSee Less

Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
... See MoreSee Less

15th December, 2017  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Garda Síochána - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

28th November, 2017  ·  

Jump to: