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Duckett’s Grove

Travel

11 Gardens to Visit in County Carlow

July 24, 2015
10 Gardens to Visit in Carlow

Altamont Gardens, Tullow

Carlow Garden Festival

It’s hard to believe that it’s twelve months since I last wrote about Carlow Garden Festival. Ever since then I’ve been meaning to share details with you of all the beautiful gardens we’re lucky to have on our doorstep, yet here we are again with another festival about to begin. So whether you’re passing through the second smallest county in Ireland, or better still staying for a few days, the ten-day garden festival held in County Carlow every summer is an opportunity to see the best of Carlow’s gardens up close and personal. All of the following gardens attract celebrities for walks and talks during the garden festival, but most are open throughout the year. Read on for more information.

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Travel

A Christmas Fair…. See You There?

November 30, 2014

Hot off the heels of today’s Taste of Carlow market, I’m now excited to share details of the very special Ducketts Grove House & Estate Christmas Fair that will be taking place this Sunday, 7th December from 12 noon to 5.00 pm.

Ducketts Grove Christmas Fair This is just one event in a whole programme of activities laid on for Christmas in Carlow 2014 from carol concerts to craft fairs and family shows and is a Christmas Fair that I have fond memories of for a couple of reasons. Initially it was a venue we used to head out to, having wrapped our children up warmly first, with promises of a Father Christmas visit, hot chocolate and mince pies.

Ducketts Grove Christmas FairSkip forward a few years and I found myself on the other side of the table as a stall holder when I was trying my hand at creating and selling homemade seed cards. As a result of being fully immersed in the atmosphere of the Ducketts Grove Christmas Fair, I also learnt how exhausting it is being a market trader! Apart from weeks or months of product making, the stallholders then have to pack it all, unpack it, create their displays, then stand all day and do their best to remain happy and chatty, talking and selling, before packing up and driving home, and quite often, getting up and doing it all again the next day. And all that in wind, rain, frost, sun and snow! Respect to anyone who does this regularly to make a living.

Ducketts Grove Christmas FairA Christmas market such as the one at Ducketts Grove gives us the opportunity to shop locally in one place for handmade gifts, many of which we mightn’t be previously aware of, helping to support the families of the makers and subsequently our local economies.

However, the Ducketts Grove Christmas Fair isn’t just about browsing through the 50 plus stands of craft and food that will feature ceramics and knitwear, art, jewellery, embroidery, Christmas cards and decorations, as well as cakes, bakes and beverages of all descriptions. There’s lots more to see and do.

Free Family Fun

If you’re a parent who’s minding the euros, you might be tempted to avoid special markets or fairs such a this one, worried that children will be pestering you to spend more money than you can manage, but the organisers of the Ducketts Grove Christmas Fair have thought carefully about this. There is a fee of €7.00 per car for parking but thereafter all the activities will be provided free of charge.

Ducketts Grove Christmas FairImportantly for the little ones, there will be a Santa Grotto with a free present for every child, free festive face painting and performances by Carlow based musical and entertainment groups. At 2 and 4 p.m. Christmas storytelling workshops will take place in the courtyard, an activity that has previously been a big hit with the children. Additionally both adults and children can enjoy the inflatable game experience of Rodeo Reindeer while a giant snow globe is available as a special backdrop for family and individual photos.

Ducketts Grove Christmas FairHorses, Birds of Prey & Weaving

Adding to the atmosphere on the day will be a range of traditional craft demonstrations including weaving and horse shoeing while Woodlands Falconry will be showing their range of beautiful birds of prey including hawks, falcons and owls. The start and finish of the Carlow Farmers Hunt, in period dress will add a special ambience to this year’s fair. Celebrating their bi-centenary in 2014 the hunt is returning to historic premises where they would have hunted in the past.

How to Get There

Are you tempted to come along to this unique setting and join in the pre-Christmas fun? If so, you’ll find Ducketts Grove 10 minutes from Carlow and Tullow off the R418 Castledermot/Tullow Road, the R726 Carlow/Hacketstown Road and the R448 Castledermot/Carlow Road. Visitors travelling from Dublin and the south should exit the M9 motorway at junction 4 and follow signs for Castledermot and the R418 Castledermot/Tullow Road.

If you can’t make it to Ducketts Grove this year, maybe there’ll be a Christmas market close to you that you can support in whatever way you can. With all the encouragement for us to ‘shop locally’ over recent years, has it changed your shopping habits at Christmas and beyond?

 

Green and Vibrant are helping to spread the word about the Ducketts Grove event. Keep an eye out for the #DuckettsGroveChristmas hashtag for more information and updates.

 

Green

Building Resilient Communities: A Little Taste of Carlow

September 7, 2014

Carlow coverIf you’re a regular reader you may have noticed that building resilient and supportive communities is a running theme on this blog.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

This not only applies to the community garden projects I’m involved with, but extends to our community at large. When Susan and I worked with Carlow Tourism on a Green and Vibrant project recently, arranging a #TasteCarlow bloggers tour with the aim of sharing some of the positive aspects of my home county, it was with that in mind. (Here’s Irish Farmerette’s experience of the tour.)

We’re blessed in Carlow to have a strong and active network of groups and the commitment to work with and not against one another is palpable. Take some of the small business’ and destinations we came across on our bloggers tour for example:

#TasteCarlow Tour

Resilient Communities: A Little Taste of CarlowBianka from Carlow Tours, our chauffeur and guide for the bloggers day, is flying one of many flags for Carlow. She’s not only created a small business for herself, but in doing so, Carlow Tours are attracting visitors to the county which helps other business’ to thrive.

Bianca’s enthusiasm and passion for Carlow is infectious as she shares myths and tales of our local history and heritage, ensuring that ancestors communities aren’t forgotten either.

Duckett’s Grove

Thanks to Carlow Council, like other old houses and estates Duckett’s Grove have opened the gardens, buildings, stables and outbuildings to crafters, tea rooms and a visitor centre. Owners of country houses are realising that we enjoy poking around different shops and buildings along with taking tours and tea in their gardens and houses, giving them the wherewithal to keep the premises open and also providing small business’ with a home and an opportunity to delight us with their wares. It’s a collaboration that seems to be working well for everyone.

Resilient Communities: A Little Taste of Carlow

Resilient Communities: A Little Taste of CarlowCarlow Farmers Market

Carlow Farmers Market, like many others around the country, support and promote each other. Our local market traders meet every Saturday in the Potato Mart in the centre of Carlow town, selling locally grown, produced and packaged food. The growers and retailers encourage and fly another Carlow flag for good, tasty, often organic, wholesome food. They also provided a tasty picnic for the bloggers on our tour, giving the group the opportunity to sample of some of the tasty treats on offer in Carlow, from bread, cheese, fruit and meat to pickles, crackers, juices and beer.

Taste of Carlow Food & Craft Fair

The Taste of Carlow Food and Craft Festival is a two-day event, the first taking place in August, the second in December. Here, traders around the county and beyond are encouraged to take a space and show us what they can offer. From the Carlow Farmers Market regulars to toy sellers, food stands, eco trails, artists, bungee trampoliners, facepainters, crafters and more, they encourage the community to visit, meet, play, shop and spend.

Resilient Communities: A Little Taste of Carlow

Malone’s Fruit Farm

Given my love of fresh food I’m almost ashamed to reveal that I’ve never called into Malone Fruit Farm shop having driven past it countless times, but that’s set to change. From when you first walk through the doorway, the little shop is a delightful emporium of food, crafts, locally grown, locally made, artisan, free range, frozen, fresh… I could go on and on, it really is a treasure and if you’ve ever dreamed about owning a farm shop, Malone’s is one you’ll definitely want to visit to get a feel for the best they have to offer.

Resilient Communities: A Little Taste of Carlow

Huntington Castle

The owners of Huntington Castle have opened their home and gardens to encourage visitors to look around, drink tea and eat cake. For years the house was a the central point of the community, employing locals, acting as a garrison then in later years, opening up to a global community as the foundation centre for the Fellowship of Isis. Nowadays they offer their home and gardens up for people to visit and tour, as accommodation, as a venue, either for private events or more public ones such as vintage fairs, where stallholders can sell their goods to interested shoppers.

Resilient Communities: A Little Taste of Carlow

The Step House Hotel

The Step House Hotel, our last venue on the tour where we literally experienced another Taste of Carlow thanks to the tasting menu put together by Chef Alan Foley. Alan takes pride in sourcing as much of their food for his kitchen from local growers and producers as he can. The Step House also share their tips and suggestions on where to head to when visiting Carlow on their website and blog.

Resilient Communities: A Little Taste of Carlow

Resilient Community Building

For all my positivity, I’m a realist too. It has to be acknowledged that as well as supporting one another, groups can get caught up in nitpicky and destructive habits, but where does that lead us? Disjointed, disfunctional, hurt, frightened and fragmented. Yet as these few examples have shown, by simply working together and encouraging one another, we can breed optimism and success. I know which road I prefer to travel along. How about you?

If you’re interested in building committed and sustainable communities and would like to find out more, Cultivate.ie, We Create Workspace and the P2P Foundation are hosting a series of events this week that bring together cooperative advocates, community activists and commons animators to share perspectives and ideas on the question,

“How can a commons-based collaborative economy strengthen the resilience of our communities?”  

Contact them directly for more information or to book a place.

And if you ever spot Carlow on a signpost or map, on the way to or inbetween somewhere, don’t drive straight past, swing by and look us up, you might find we’re quite a friendly bunch really 🙂