Long known as the Gateway to West Cork, Innishannon is a beautiful and historic spot, brimming with artistic talent and creative gardening – and now is your chance to experience everything it has to offer in both of these categories.
‘Some people,’ says local resident and well-known author Alice Taylor, ‘create beauty with a brush and palette; others do so with a spade and shovel.
‘Painting and gardening are all about creating beautiful pictures. One with paint on canvas and the other with seeds, plants and trees on the earth,’ she told The Southern Star recently – which is why, on the first weekend of July, the village aims to bring the two together and put them on show to the public as part of a most unusual, and interesting, Gardens & Galleries of Innishannon Trail.
The beauty of the heavily-wooded Bandon valley has inspired many artists, among them Innishannon-based artists Jerry Larkin, Lia Walsh, Mary Nolan O’Brien, Alannah Sheehan, Una Collins and their students. Throughout the weekend, their work will be on display in a number of spaces around the village including the Mulberry Studio, the Parish Hall and the School Hall, with all of them offering interested visitors the opportunity to browse at their leisure.
Meanwhile for the green-fingered, and those who simply enjoy the sheer beauties of nature, a generous mix of seven very different gardens will be open to the public – a village garden, a cottage garden, a riverside garden, a woodland garden, a farm garden, a castle garden and others.
‘Not only is Innishannon itself an inspirational place but it is peopled by inspiring people – and remember, viewing beautiful works of art is good for the body and soul,’ Alice declared.
So grab a chance to view her garden, along with those of artist Mary Nolan O’Brien, John O’Sullivan, Isobel Sutton-Dillon, Alannah Sheehan, and the gardens of the imposing Cor castle. And don’t forget that the two local churches will also be open, featuring some special festive decorations, while the village itself will quite literally be awash with flowers and decorations: ‘Many windows will be decorated with old photographs and historical artefacts,’ said Alice adding, that if all goes well, sightseers can browse to the lilting strains of music from a traditional gramophone, while the organisers hope to have vintage cars on display, as well as a miniature steam engine. There will also be an organ recital in the village’s Christ Church on Saturday afternoon.
‘People love to wander around looking at interesting windows, so the village windows will be filled with artistic and historic artefacts,’ she said, adding that anyone who wanted to dress “artistically” for the occasion should feel free to do so!
And remember – it’s all in a good cause. The Gardens & Galleries weekend is aimed at raising much-needed funds for the village’s hard-working Tidy Towns and Friends of Innishannon groups.
‘For many years it has been one of my dreams that Innishannon would host such a festival. It is a celebration of creativity,’ Alice said. Open gardens are hugely sociable occasions where complete strangers bond over discussions on the common theme of gardening.
‘Because there will be so many galleries to be visited people will see a great variety of paintings – many of them depicting the beauties of the Bandon river valley. The proceeds of the weekend will help continue the restoration of the ruined St Mary’s church at the Old Tower, while seats for Dromkeen Wood are also on the Tidy Town group’s shopping list. All this will cost over €5,000,’ she explained.
‘On arrival at Innishannon, don’t forget to make the Parish Hall your first stop as this will be the base camp for all this activity,’ Alice continued, ‘and you can pick up a pass and a map for €10 that will guide you to all venues. A minibus will be available for any venues which are not situated within easy walking distance of the village, while car parking will be available in the village and church car parks.’
• Innishannon Parish Hall is the starting point for the Galleries & Gardens of Innishannon Trail, which is open from 11am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday July 2nd and 3rd.