Áine Walsh of Drogheda Tidy Towns, artist Breda Marron and stone mason Frances Gogarty with one of the newly installed limestone information pillars at the Joe Stanley Garden with Daisy the dog. Photo: Sam O’Neill.
When it was installed by Drogheda Tidy Towns Committee last year the Joe Stanley 1916 Commemoration Garden on John Street gave great joy to lots of people many of whom had never heard of Joe Stanley.
Here was a space that had heretofore just been there and almost forgotten about. But, almost overnight it seemed, it was transformed into something beautiful, a focus for civic pride in our town.
The Mayor unveiled a plaque, there were speeches and the band played some lovely music and then peace returned once more to the new facility. OK, some people saw fit to stick up ugly banners advertising events and festivals but they were soon gone as well.
As the plants settled in the good people of the Tidy Towns Committee went quietly about their business and the garden has blossomed into a source of delight for us all as we go about our daily business.
Just a glance at the garden as you hurry by on the dual carriageway is enough to give the heart a lift but, for those that take the time to walk through the garden, there is a special treat in store as you literally walk in the shadow of history.
Regular visitors will have noticed the layers of interest being added to the garden with successive planting of trees and shrubs. Recently a story board sign, giving a brief history of the life of local man Joe Stanley, and his important role in the 1916 Rising and early part of the Free State has been added.
The most recent development in the park has been a Tree Trail on which Áine Walsh of Drogheda Tidy Towns worked with local artist Breda Marron to find a sensitive, creative, robust and informative method of naming the trees that would be accessible for all to read, yet respectful of this historical area.
The finished products are six limestone pillars, engraved with the common and Latin tree name, and a picture of the leaf, seed /flower. Each pillar is approx. 900ml tall, so ideal reading height for both children and adults.
Elias Mlimbila of the Parks section in Louth County Council assisted with tree identification and Frances Gogarty undertook the stone carving to Breda’s drawing and naming specifications. Eddie Phelan provided engineering support. Tidy Towns would like to thank Tom Reilly for his research on Joe Stanley which was used in creating the sign.
Please do yourself a favour. Take a wander around the Joe Stanley Garden when you get a chance and enjoy the Joe Stanley story, as well as the little Tree Trail. Just be very careful crossing the dual carriageway.