VERY INSPIRING SCHOOL GARDEN IN ST. BRIGID’S N.S., STILLORGAN, DUBLIN – 3rd wk June 2013

School Gardening Teacher, Caroline Jolly, with one of the St Brigid's School hens.

School Gardening Teacher, Caroline Jolly, with one of the St Brigid’s School hens.

I was very impressed after speaking to Dundrum GIY group in the Goat, Goatstown, recently, to then be brought by local GIY Champion, Shane Maher, to see a famous school garden in Stillorgan nearby. Teacher Caroline Jolly has been the inspirational driving force behind developing this educational oasis. Caroline is a protégé of Marino Institute of Education lecturer, Paddy Madden, author of  ‘Go Wild at School’.

The grown-up community helps the students, especially during the school holidays in keeping St. Brigid’s  School Garden looking great all year round. Daily attention is needed also for the hens. Food and water for the hens is one responsibility, but so is protecting poultry from the increasingly brazen foxes in this suburban environment. Amazingly, a honeybee brood box was set up empty and after  a few months a swarm took up residence in the midst of the wildflower meadow. Seeds for this wildlife oasis came from www.irishseedsavers.ie in Scariff, Co. Clare.

It is important to also appreciate the legacy of fertility which underpins the thriving nature of this school garden. The site was before now part of the Rectory garden for St. Brigid’s Church of Ireland in Stillorgan. A previous Rector kept a couple of donkeys there in years gone by. Geoff, Caroline’s uncle and godfather and Patsy who also works in the school garden, expressed their appreciation for all the fertility which the donkeys bequeathed to the present generation of young horticulturalists. Good fertility and soil structure is being maintained now by a fine three bay composting system which decomposes a diverse mixture of plant matter and poultry poo.

My sincere thanks to Caroline and crew for the very kind bottle of elderflower champagne, old coffee grinds for deterring slugs and the finest of St. Brigid’s hens’ eggs. One of the bigger eggs had a delicious double yoke. Congratulations to Shane and all at Dundrum GIY for all their work in lending a hand whenever required in this wonderfully inspirational outdoor living classroom.

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