St Leonard’s Garden opens with appeal to all senses.
St Leonard’s Garden at Seatown, Dundalk was officially reopened today (Dec 20) after a €450,000 revamp during the last six months that has seen the historic site become a sensory garden appealing to the senses of sound, smell, sight and touch.
According to Cllr Jim D’Arcy, chairman, Dundalk Town Council who performed the official reopening, “The principle that underpinned the St Leonard’s Garden design was a need to respect the history of the space while also opening it out as a valuable and accessible public amenity to be enjoyed by all.
“The garden design echoes the layout of a chapel with main and secondary aisles. The mass rock is a real focal point with three new water features stimulating our senses. The gravestones that recall the historic use of the site as a graveyard have been fixed to a stone boundary wall so that they remain in full view.
“The bleached lime trees framing the site help maintain the formal appearance of the garden while a great variety of shrubs, herbs and herbaceous stock has been planted that further stimulate our senses. It is also appropriate that the design provides full access for people with disabilities.”
Congratulating the project team, Cllr D’Arcy said they have delivered a “fine example of an urban space given over to rest, relaxation and reflection” and expressed confidence that “it is an addition to the social infrastructure of Seatown and Dundalk that will be used and cherished across the generations”.
The history of the St Leonard’s Garden site goes back to at least the 12th Century and it is believed to have been in around 1180 that the Augustinian Hospital Priory of St Leonard was founded just beyond the medieval town walls. The Abbey is known to have been operational in 1216.
In more recent history, the graveyard at St Leonard’s continued to be used until 1896 with the location becoming a garden of remembrance in 1965 after works completed by members of the Old Dundalk Society.
In 2001, Dundalk Town Council commissioned Murray & Associates Landscape Architects to redesign the location.
While the planning process and public consultation were completed at that time, it was not until last year that funding was sourced through the Border Midland & Western Regional Operational Programme 2000-2006 under the Urban and Village Renewal Measure which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Irish Government and local authority funding provided in this case by Dundalk Town Council under the development contribution scheme. This allowed a contract to be awarded to Shaffrey Landscaping Ltd of Moynalty, Co Meath who began the comprehensive programme of works in June of this year.