THE pupils at Gaelscoil Dr Uí Shúilleabháin in Skibbereen have recreated one of West Cork’s most historic and enduring images – Drombeg Stone Circle.
Last year, after attending a gardening workshop run by Two Green Shoots – a garden design company based in Glengarriff – the pupils began brainstorming about what they would like to see featured in the two-acre greenfield site around their new school.
‘Everyone moved in when the school was ready last November, but the area around the school was left as a greenfield site because we wanted time to reflect on how to best develop it as a biodiverse garden,’ said Brian Granaghan, who is a parent representative on the school’s board of management.
‘Rather than develop it in a conventional way,’ Brian said, ‘we wanted to make it a really interesting space. That is why we employed Two Green Shoots to help us come up with a really interesting design. And the concept came principally from two pupils, Orna O’Brien and Louise Murran.
‘With the help of the Gwendoline Harold Barry Trust, and fundraising efforts at the school – including the car boot sales at the showgrounds, another of which is taking place on Sunday, June 9th – we have just recently started planting the new garden.
He believes the project could cost upwards of €20,000 but it will be money well spent because the children will learn in an environment that encourages biodiversity, as well as teaching them about growing vegetables in raised beds and polytunnels.
But one of the most striking features of the new garden is their representation of the Drombeg Stone Circle in the roundabout at the main entrance.
West Cork is an area that is synonymous with stone circles but Drombeg has a special resonance with Gaelscoil Dr Uí Shúilleabháin because it – together with a dove of peace – is featured on the school’s crest.
Another interesting aspect of the project – which measures 5m in diameter and was put in place over the Easter weekend – is that the stones were all sourced locally.
It was made possible by the help and support of Tim Looney, whose construction company built the school, the flood relief contractor Jons Civil Engineering, and Cork County Council.
‘The stones – which were chosen for their particular size and shape at the work site office – were delivered to the school at different stages and additional stones were sourced from Timmy O’Regan’s quarry in Castlehaven – all of which helped to achieve the desired look.
The stones were installed by Michael Casey of Casey Plant Hire, while Noah Chase from Deelish Garden Centre was of great assistance in co-ordinating the work.
The end result is rather fantastic – it looks as if Drombeg has been transplanted from its historic site in Glandore.
And – believe it or not – the stone circle is even in full alignment with the March 21st and September 21st equinox.
‘This project has been hugely educational,’ said Brian. ‘It gave the children an opportunity to learn about the heritage of West Cork, as well as have an up-close and personal look at the bronze age. Last week, they also sowed clover and wildflower seeds over the roundabout to encourage biodiversity and attract bees.’
As for the remainder of the site, Brian said: ‘The parents have got involved too and planted a wildlife friendly hedgerow. They also planted a large Rowan tree at the entrance and have big plans to landscape the rear of the school over the summer months.
‘To the best of my knowledge,’ Brian added, ‘no other school has ever attempted anything like this and the children have all expressed their delight at being part of it.’