On the 15th of November, award-winning CRC Firhouse Day Centre officially opened a wheelchair-accessible Garden on a small patch of ground beside the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the community of Firhouse. Over a year in planning and construction, and working with South Dublin County Council, the project grew from an idea that came about on a sunny day last summer. Sitting outside, a group from the centre realised that a small garden that both they and the wider Firhouse community could benefit from would be a worthwhile addition to the area. After looking at an overgrown and neglected plot of local land, the group got together and drafted a plan to develop the small plot.
However, they knew that they would need some help to get the project moving, and so local Councillor Brian Lawlor was brought on board. With his experience and contacts within South Dublin County Council he soon put the would-be gardeners in touch with Parks Department designer and project manager Oliver Hoey and his team. South Dublin County Council were very supportive of the Accessible Garden initiative, and with low maintenance and full wheelchair accessibility among the main requirements, specially shaped raised planters were developed to enable wheelchair-users to tend to the garden during the year.
Following discussions with the group from CRC Firhouse, plants were chosen that were tactile and scented so that those with a visual impairment could enjoy the garden too. The garden is also intended to be enjoyed equally by the whole Firhouse Community and now the group are looking forward to experiencing the garden next summer when the flowers are blooming. During the official opening event, which was attended by a number of local community members and representatives including Sean Crowe TD, Councillors Alan Edge, Deirdre O’Donovan and Charlie O’Connor, local businessman John Regan and Catherine Stuart and Alison McCallion representing CRC’s management, Firhouse CRC Centre Manager Breda Gavagan thanked the friendly and obliging staff of South Dublin County Council for their work, and in recognition of his help in getting the project started, Councillor Brian Lawlor was asked to perform the ribbon cutting ceremony.