Posts Tagged ‘Balbriggan’


Cultivating 3 acres in Tacumshin by hand is a far cry from the management of a small suburban garden we left behind in Balbriggan. After a while, the idea of acquiring a couple of pigs to help with excavation and weeding becomes more and more appealing.

Apart from that, pigs are fascinating to observe. At the Irish National Heritage Park here on the N11 near Wexford town, one can observe not just any pigs, but the old outdoor hardy and quite rare Tamworth pigs. Back in 1812, the Prime Minister

Normally brown, these Tamworth pigs are covered in mud during their summer moult at the Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig, Wexford.

Normally brown, these Tamworth pigs are covered in mud during their summer moult at the Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig, Wexford.

Sir Robert Peel in Tamworth, England, interbred his own pigs with an old variety he had studied while in Ireland called the ‘Irish Grazer’. The Tamworth is today considered the variety which most closely resembles the wild boar which was first domesticated as livestock thousands of years ago in Ireland.

The dense bristles of the Tamworth pig give protection from UV light except during moulting season between June and August. During this time, the Tamworth likes to don an all body mud pack both to keep cool and as a sun block. Áine and myself must keep in touch with the Heritage Park ( just in case they may have a spare couple of piglets to sell in the future!



Possible on site transportation at the Balbriggan Allotments Open Day on Sat 20 Oct from 10am -3pm – wheelbarrow!

Balbriggan Allotment Association has a great day planned for Saturday, 20th October, from 10am – 3pm.  Please keep it free if you want 20% off the rental cost of these new Fingal allotments, or if you just want a great day out and a bit of sociable exercise. One could learn much on the day as the tasks include (a) making a demonstration allotment (b) preparing a pig rearing area, (c)putting up posts and wire, and painting a gate. A great group Conservation Volunteers Dublin will be there to share the knack and know-how, if this is all a bit new to you!

There will be free lunch (soup and sambos), but bring some grub and water too as you may just work up an appetite in the autumn sun! (Forecast seems good so far!) The man to contact for more details is Hans Visser, Biodiversity Officer in Fingal County Council. Hans has done great work with many others, Catherine, Zoe, Tom and loads more. Hans would remind you a bit of Obama, with the ‘yes, we can’ attitude.

Knocknagin Lane is the location , one km or so north of Balbriggan on the old N1. Turn left off the old N1 on to this country road where you see a sign for a ‘pet store’ if coming from the south. If coming from north of Balbriggan, cross the Delvin Bridge and keep an eye out for a right turn. If coming by car on the M1, turn for Balbriggan at the Naul/Balbriggan exit, come in to Balbriggan and turn north at the T junction when you see the Milestone Inn. Drive north until you leave the town behind. At the top of the hill, look out left for Knocknagin Lane. If coming by train, walk 50 metres to Drogheda Street where Bracken Cabs will take you to Knocknagin Lane for a couple of euro. On the bike, just stick to the old N1 and follow the directions above. Happy allotmenteering!


Apple juicing demonstration for local schools in Sonairte lecture hall during National Organic Week using some of the 27 varieties in the garden.

The trusty James Grieve apple tree in Trevor’s Kitchen Garden is down a little on last year’s bumper harvest, but the apples are big and juicy. They sell well at Balbriggan Fish & Farmers’ Market on a Friday morning and brighten up our packed lunches over the last few weeks. Some are juiced and others are stewed for desserts. As an early apple, they are nearly gone now, but the harvest in Sonairte’s 2 acre organic orchard up the road in Laytown, Co. Meath, is just coming on stream in time for Apple Day.

Apple Day in Sonairte was a great success with primary school students enjoying the funny names of old apple tree varieties, like Sheep’s Snout, Golden Spire and my favourite Kerry Pippin which dates back to 1802. Today 210 years later even the sagely visitors like Joe Barry the Farming Independent forestry correspondent was young by comparison. Joe reckoned the coastal location of Sonairte had saved our harvest in the light of the frost damage he incurred in Co. Kildare.

With 127 varieties of apple tree at Sonairte, some quite rare, we feel a huge responsibility to look after this precious aspect of Ireland’s heritage. Being volunteers, we can do with all the help we can get! So do call in if you missed Apple Day soon – ADMISSION TO SONAIRTE IS FREE -the Sunflower Cafe is open and the orchard, garden and river walk are all looking good. If I am around, I will make you some fresh apple juice from some of the organic apples. We had great practise juicing during Apple Day. Beannachtaí na n-úll ort!


Trevor Sargent cuts the ribbon at the opening of St. Teresa's N.S. vegetable garden while Principal Pat Furlong lends a hand.

I was delighted to be asked to open the very special vegetable garden in St Teresa’s National School, Balbriggan, last Friday. Principal. Mr Pat Furlong, caretaker Richard along  with Ms Ann Lee, her  pupils, and their parents pulled together to create a spectacular and very productive organic garden, complete with bug hotel and scarecrows. The full range of popular vegetables was looking good and very healthy. After the ribbon cutting and the very welcome cuppa and sandwiches, Ms Lee asked about my own patch. Before long we had a plan in place for her class to walk up the road on Monday morning to see   ”Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’.

Coincidentally, the importance of gardening for good childhood development has been in the news this week following publication of a three year study by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in the UK. The study was commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society, a great organization which helps  thousands of schools to establish gardens.

The NFER studied 10 schools in depth in Britain from London city to rural Yorkshire. As well as that, over 1,300 teachers were surveyed over 3 years. This research found that schools which actively use a garden in the curriculum develop ‘resiliant’, ‘ready to learn’ and ‘responsible’ children.

So to talk about gardening developing skills to ensure society has the means to feed itself in the future is but one worthwhile reason to get growing. Here and now, gardening in schools, homes and communities is key to our children becoming well-balanced, healthy, happy and all round well developed individuals. On top of this,  tilling the soil develops qualities of patience, co-operation and entrepreneurship amongst many young people, the reseach found.

Mind you, when the green-fingered pupils of St. Teresa’s National School in Balbriggan called around last Monday, it was enjoyment and adventure which was uppermost on their minds. After a glass of apple juice each, they were in fine voice to sing a few bars of ”The Garden Song’ to ‘robin watching hungrily from his perch in yonder tree’. The video clip below gives some sense of the occasion.