Ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community.’
It was these words that encouraged the Muintir Bhaire Men’s Group, on the Sheep’s Head peninsula, to develop a community garden in Durrus, on land behind the local Garda station.
Retired Garda Brendan Dwyer explained how the group was set up a few years ago to encourage the men in the area to come together for social and community volunteering.
‘Since we’ve gotten off the ground we’ve grown and have provided support for our community through organisations such as the Tidy Towns and Meal On Wheels, as well as the social aspect of our group where our motto is “positivity.”’
However, it was one member’s wish to grow vegetables that spurred the group to create a garden where they could have a space to not only grow flowers and veg but also to gather.
‘We all thought a garden was a great idea but where to find the land was another question,’ Brendan said.
Then the answer came as the retired garda who had spent many years stationed in Durrus village, remembered the station there had disused land at its rear.
‘I knew there was some empty land at the back of the garda station and when we approached the West Cork division we got nothing but support,’ said Brendan.
Brendan put the group’s idea for a garden at the station to Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan, head of the Cork West Garda Division and with his encouragement and help, and the support of the Office of Pubic Works (OPW), Muintir Bhaire Men's Group community garden in Durrus began to take shape.
Group member Joe Starrett explained how recycling and reusing is an important part of their ethos.
‘We decided to use as much recycled material as we possibly could to make the garden,’ said Joe.
‘We got the frame for our poly tunnel from the Men’s Shed Group in Allihies, recycled strawberry bags from Rossmore, and many people may recognise and indeed have walked across the containers we use for our raised beds as they are recycled from the damaged floating walkway from Barleycove beach.’
The group also put a call out in The Southern Star for second hand plant pots, a request that was more than generously answered.
‘We don’t believe in waste and this really helped us when we were starting up,’ Joe said.
‘Even when we were clearing the site, the brambles which we gathered were taken away by one of our members and fed to his goats.
‘We will be growing all the plants for the Tidy Towns and we will also be providing the vegetables for the meals at the senior citizens dinners,’ Joe said.
Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan cut the ribbon and congratulated the community on their achievement at the garden’s recent opening.
‘I’m delighted that the land at the Garda station here in Durrus is being used for such a great community organisation and I look forward to the next time I’m here and the bounty that is already growing well inside the poly tunnel,’ Chief Superintendent Cadogan said.
‘We want to thank everyone who has supported us, especially, Chief Superintendent Cadogan, the OPW and our local Garda John Dowling. Of course we wouldn’t have been able to achieve all this without the people of our community and the Durrus and District Community Council who supported us with a space for the men’s group at our community hall, Philips’ Green.’