Another Year

It is Dad’s 11th anniversary today and that meant heading out to celebrate his life in that lovely Garden of Eden that is Mount Congreve here in Co. Waterford.

It was as if he was with me as I walked around the magnificent formal garden and woodland areas.

Mount Congreve was special to him and is beyond precious to me.

There was just so much that had me thinking of him and I kept veering from the beauty of the recently fallen:


to looking skyward:

But most of all, it was the vivid colours that enthralled me and made me think of his love of nature’s blazing beauty:

There is just so much to life, irrespective of its fragility and the butterflies had me utterly captivated:

Dad adored waterlilies so they called out to be included:

And, he loved me, just as I loved him. I was never his greatest model when he was behind the camera but this one is especially to make him smile:

A Year On

I was fortunate enough to get to see early Spring unfold in magnificent Mount Congreve Gardens here in Co. Waterford last year before they were closed because of the pandemic.

The Gardens have long been my place to wander and soak in the glory of nature’s colours. I hope it won’t be too long before they open again but meanwhile I often take a little look at some of the photographs I took out there last year and that live on my phone for soothing purposes.

Here’s a tiny sample:

Magnolia Magic

Magnolia Magic

Magnolias seem to come and go in a flurry of petals. They always have me wondering where to look  – upwards as they reach for the sky with their big blooms or downwards where they leave a gentle carpet of  velvety pink and white.

I hope you like this selection from precious Mount Congreve Gardens which are just a few miles out the road in Tramore.

Gates of Life ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 216

Gate at Mount Congreve Gardens, Co. Waterford
Gate at Mount Congreve Gardens, Co. Waterford

Gates have a a wonderful symbolism about them ~ very similar to bridges- and they’ve always been a source of huge fascination to me. Apart from anything else,  I have noticed how many of the photographs from my childhood involve gates of  various descriptions.

Me Sitting on a Gate Photo: Frank Tubridy
Me Sitting on a Gate
Photo: Frank Tubridy

Needless to say, the event in the upcoming Kilkenny Arts Festival (August 9th-18th) that has captivated me and fired my imagination even further, is one called: Kilkenny Gates: A Hidden Beauty

It’s about the history, craft  and beauty involved in wrought-iron gates across Co. Kilkenny and promises to be highly informative and inspirational.

There are just so many kinds of gates ….. and I’d love to know which ones come to your mind ~ be they physical or metaphorical?

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate

August Thoughts ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 212

August, for me,  is the most bittersweet month of all and today has been full of the sweetness as my beloved Mount Congreve Gardens have re-opened ~ and suddenly Thursdays feel like Thursdays again.  The world famous gardens here in Co. Waterford are set to open every Thursday from now until the end of September (

I suppose the bitter-sweetness of August harks back to a time when I knew that my older brother and sister had just four weeks to go before returning to boarding school and transforming me into an ‘only child’ for yet another year.

It’s also about the shortening of the days. This mattered hugely to me in the days when I played tennis with a passion ~ days before floodlights and indoor courts.  Fading light isn’t just about tennis games ending earlier; it’s about reaching out to soak in as much colour as possible in every single sense of the word ‘

I made my way to Mount Congreve early this morning on a day which was very humid with grey skies. There were moments when I felt like I was in a rain forest but my heart was singing as I lost myself in the Gardens which were overflowing with inspirational colour.

Light and Shade ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 188

Today has to be the hottest day of the year ~ and perhaps for many years ~ here in Tramore.  I was fortunate enough be able to go for a walk in shady Newtown Wood this morning and to follow that with a luxurious swim at sun-kissed Garrarus Beach.The contrast between the two settings made me think of the evocative inscription on a family memorial in Mount Congreve Gardens.

Mount Congreve Gardens, Co. Waterford

While  the words  Light and shade by turn but love always  are  perfect words for a passionate plantsman like Ambrose Congreve,  they also have a depth that emphasises the absolute importance of ‘love’ in human existence.

I wonder is anything more fundamental than love?

Mount Congreve Gardens ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 171

World famous Mount Congreve Gardens here in Co. Waterford were open to the public yesterday. They were looking absolutely splendid.
Like so many others, I am hoping that a resolution can be found to ensure that the Gardens remain open to visitors, as was the abiding wish of the late Ambrose Congreve.

I hope you enjoy this slideshow of the Mount Congreve’s summer splendor yesterday.

Mount Congreve on my Mind ~ Gatherings from Ireland #149

This week (May 24th) marked the second  anniversary  of the death of  Ambrose Congreve, aged 104, who developed the world famous Mount Congreve Gardens which are just a few miles from Waterford City.

Anyone who follows this blog will already know that Mount Congreve Gardens have a very special place in my heart, going right back to my childhood. I had been so, so looking forward to visiting them on the first Thursday in April to witness Spring in all its natural glory but , alas, they didn’t re-open as negotiations are ongoing  with the Office of Public Works to try to make Ambrose Congreve’s wish to leave the Gardens to the people of Ireland a reality.

It is hard to describe the yearning that I feel to be able to walk around Mount Congreve again. Somehow the blooming of the single rhododendron that lives in my back garden is serving as a reminder of the incredible beauty that defines Mount Congreve.

I hope with all my heart that the negotiations are brought to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as possible as it is unbearable to think of  such a jewel of Ireland ~ that exudes the very best of nature, colour and sheer passion being locked up, especially when I know it has to be way beyond stunning with that wonderful collection of rhododendrons at their peak this very day!

Mount Congreve Gardens ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 35

Thursday means thoughts of  beautiful world famous Mount Congreve  Gardens here in Co. Waterford which  have long served as my place to soak in natural beauty and tranquillity on Thursdays from April 1 to the end of September.  Now that my own garden is coming alive,  I am longing to see Mount Congreve again. If my camellia is showing pink, then Mount Congreve must be ready to explode with colour.

I confess to suffering from serious withdrawals during the months that Mount Congreve is closed to the public and I know that there are many, many more out there who feel the same.