Tuesday, 14 September 2010



A short few years back, the people of Terrasson (France), finding that tourists, having seen its 12th century bridge, were moving through very quickly, put their heads together and came up with the idea of Gardens of the Imagination as an added attraction for their small town.

Visited it this summer and, despite a touch of hype in the brochures and also from the guide, it was very enjoyable. Water is perhaps the main feature of the garden and all the water is recycled right down to the fountain at the entrance.

There are moss terraces and a rose garden and other distinct areas. All are well laid out and there is also a belvedere where there is a brilliant view of the area of the town below dominated by the church. In all, there are nine distinct areas, including a small open air theatre (see pic).

Dry stone walls feature in the gardens and also in a living breathing structure at the end of the walk, a structure that contains an exhibition of the Japanese art of Niwaki, not to be confused with Bonsai. The trees are allowed to grow bigger and into more natural shapes.

We followed the tour with a walk around the town and enjoyed its many water features and vistas, particularly those around and about the old century bridge which spans the Vezere here.

Could we in Cork do something like this. It wouldn’t have to be, shouldn’t be, an exact copy – after all, we have our own imaginations, don’t we? What is happening in the old grounds of Farranferris? Could be a suitable area. But I’m sure there are a few more. And if it is not done in the city, what about one of the surrounding towns taking it up.


I walked in Glanmire not long ago. It is a pleasant place but could be one of the most beautiful villages of Ireland. It has many advantages: the church of St Mary on the Hill, the village located along the river, the bar overlooking the river, its people who care about the place.

But it could be so much better. Should tidy up a little and get rid of lingering ruins and also that galvanized shed beside the well maintained Grotto.

Most truck traffic has been diverted to the new Cork-Dublin main road. It is now time to reduce traffic further, for example by introducing a one way system. 

Now the big step. Install a control (tidal gate) at Dunkettle Bridge and do some dredging from there to the village. Result: a secure area, with a controlled water level, for teaching sailing, canoeing and other water sports, including fishing. 

Construct bike paths, sidewalks and cafes on the shore, or even create a beach area. It has already been done elsewhere. An example: the French town of Vieux-Boucau / Port d'Albret on the Atlantic coast. If Glanmire does not follow this idea, how about you Glounthaune? The same potential exists in the tidal areas here.

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