Above: Mary Kingston, Barry Shanahan and Barry Kingston.
Sixty-five years on from selling his first small selection of bedding plants, Barry Shanahan of Shanahan’s Nurseries in Clonakilty has passed the reins on to the next generation; Barry’s nephew and namesake, Barry Kingston, with his wife Mary, has taken over the day-to-day running of the business. Barry Shanahan is still a long way from retirement however, as the family explains to Sheila Mullins.
“Let fall then a dream at the top of the hill,
A dewdrop of hope by each stream;
Someone will gather the crystals of hope,
Someone will follow the dream”
Barry Kingston showed the first signs of following his uncle into a career in horticulture when he was just a schoolboy. Working every Saturday and during the holidays wasn’t enough to satisfy young Barry’s green fingers; Barry Senior laughs at the memory of his 13-year-old nephew running home from school and, “even before he had even had his dinner, he was here to see what he could help with. Gardening was born into him.”
Thirty-three years on and Barry is still growing plants at his uncle’s side and will continue to do so; Barry Senior maintains his daily visits to all sections of the three-acre site, from the Italian Garden to his new project, a delicate wildflower meadow.
After 23 years in Reenascreena Post Office, Mary Kingston joined the nurseries in 2008 and maintains the administration side of things. Barry Shanahan is delighted to see the business in such capable hands. “It is now almost 12 months since the transfer of the business to my nephew,” he says, “I am confident that Barry and Mary will continue to maintain the high standards and quality of our stock of trees, shrubs, plants and fruit trees.”
It is an adherence to the highest of standards that has earned Shanahan’s Nurseries a reputation for excellence throughout West Cork. Each plant is carefully bred, tended and judged for quality before being made available to a customer for purchase.
Planning gardens is very much part of Barry Kingston’s expertise. Whether new gardens or renovating older plots, he is always available to pop out and take a look at the project. “It’s far easier to suggest plants if I’m familiar with a garden – the conditions, soil, space available and so on.”
Barry and Mary employ three staff and are also regularly assisted in watering duties by their children Brendan, 14, and 12-year-old Annie; another generation is learning the ropes!
Barry Shanahan would like to thank all his customers for their loyal custom over the many years. “Continuing the tradition of Shanahan’s, my nephew Barry will have many new varieties of trees and shrubs available as they come on the market and I know he will always be happy to help customers in any way.”