Ruby puts the heart into flowers

Posted on: 3rd November, 2014

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: West Cork People

mags rubyMany of us don’t give a thought to where our cut flowers come from. In fact, most are grown in countries where little pesticide regulation exists, encouraging the use of potentially dangerous chemicals. A 2007 study by the International Labour Rights Fund (ILRF) found that 66 per cent of Colombian and Ecuadorian flower workers suffer from work-related health problems.

Locally grown flowers have similar advantages to locally produced food. As well as being free from dangerous chemicals, they are for instance, fresher, so have a longer vase life and most will have a better scent. 

Mary O’Brien meets Mags Riordan of Ruby Harte Floral Design, who is passionate about growing flowers free from chemicals.

Down at Bumblebee Farm, near Drimoleague, there is plenty of food for the birds, caterpillars and hedgehogs that make it their home. It’s an idyllic haven of biodiversity and beauty in the heart of West Cork. Fascinated by the wildlife that visits their garden, Mags Riordan and her husband Stephen Davies are real nature lovers. “I won’t dig over a bed if I know there are elephant moth hawk caterpillars in it,” says Mags laughing. Their biggest bane this summer has been the Tortrix moth, which invaded the tunnels at Bumblebee Farm.

Although pests like the Tortrix moth are left alone and nature is given free rein at Bumblebee Farm, Mags and Stephen still manage to produce a breathtaking array of seasonal blooms. “We’re never bored, I love the fact that everything changes with the season,” says Mags.

In Spring, there are over 25 varieties of daffodil and narcissus, as well as hyacinths, tulips, irises, primula, freesia, anenomes and brightly coloured ranunculus. Sweet william in all its scented glory arrives in April followed by the first roses, alliums, libertia, nepata, centauria and ragged robin. alstroemeria and calendula play a part all year round. Mags plants a number of iris bulbs in spring to be ready for cutting in July. Delphiniums make their grand entrance in May with the annual Mallow Lavatera not far behind. Mixed Cosmos have a splendid display of blooms right through from April to November. “One my favourites has to be godetia,” says Mags. Its common name is satinflower; it bears the most beautiful, satiny pink or white flowers for weeks in summer and grows to 2ft.” Of course, in late summer and autumn, dahlias take centre stage. But coming in to the Christmas season, as well as all the clearing and planting work to be done in the garden, Mags is busy drying blooms like hydrangas, which will dress Christmas wreaths and garlands; and collecting cones and foliage.

As well as selling her own creations, Mags really enjoys teaching others “how to create something beautiful from what’s around”. She is running a series of Autumn/Winter Flower Arranging Workshops where you can learn how to create a wonderful seasonal hand tied bouquet that can be adapted as a table centrepiece. Christmas workshops will take place at Bumblebee Farm on Thursday, December 4, from 7-9pm, costing €35 and Saturday, December 6, from 11-4pm, costing €65. Make and take home your own beautiful Christmas wreaths and arrangements.

A professionally trained florist, Mags is renowned for her romantic wedding bouquets, ranging from Cottage Garden’ style to ‘Vintage’ to ‘Bohemian’ to ‘Contemporary Chic’ — of course all chemical free. There is an excellent selection of wedding flower photographs for interested parties to peruse on the Ruby Harte Floral Design page on Facebook.

Mags will give a free one-hour flower arranging demonstration at Organico in Bantry on November 22 at 11.30am.

Ruby Harte Floral Design is at Mahon Point market every Thursday and Mag’s beautiful flower bouquets, priced from €5 up, are also currently available to buy in West Cork at Organico Café in Bantry.

Ruby Harte Floral Design, Bumble Bee Farm, Leitry Upper, Castledonovan Drimoleague. For more information call 086 8251380 or 028 32892.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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