hopes are high that the new Laois Garden Trail launched last week will lead to a big growth in Laois tourism.
Gardening expert, Dermot O’Neill was on hand to launch Laois Tourism’s new Garden Trail. The trail eatures ten of Laois’ finest gardens, including great old gardens such as Emo Court and Heywood Gardens and smaller gardens, all of which are open to the public.
The gardens at Ballintubbert, Castle Durrow, Clonaslee Garden, Clonahill Gardens, Dunmore Country School, Fruitlawn Garden, Gash Gardens and the sensory gardens at Dove House all features in the booklet.
Dermot O’Neill, whose home and garden in Clondeglass were featured in the RTE series ‘Dermot’s Secret Garden’ also wrote the foreward for the booklet.
Speaking at the launch, Dermot said he hoped his garden would one day feature on the Laois Garden Trail.
“This brochure is fantastic. The gardens in Laois can all stand up with all the gardens in the country, they are exceptional gardens and they are really worth promoting, not just for the rest of the country, but beyond these shores. They are so good that I think tourists coming into the country should come to Laois.”
He said he could see the booklet expand, but said his own garden was not ready to become one of them just yet.
Chairperson of Laois Tourism and County Manager, Peter Carey said this was a key milestone achieved for the group.
“I keep saying that County Laois is an undiscovered gem, there is a fantastic built and natural heritage in the county. This is just one aspect of it that we are trying to promote.
“When you see the quality of the ten gardens that are on display, you will agree that we have a fantastic product in the county and its only right that we should be putting so much more effort into exploiting that and promoting that,” he said.
Other speakers included Michael Starret of the Heritage Council and Leas Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Cllr Willie Aird.
Tourism officer, Dom Reddin explained that the next steps for Laois Tourism was to promote the book, which also featured in the gardening section of the Irish Times.
He said Dermot would also be plugging it on his television and radio appearances.
“We will be making signage available for owners of the gardens to display directing people to the next garden.”
The tourism officer, said they were also hoping to develop a smartphone app for the garden trail.