30 August 2012
In an on-going effort to develop the Jackie Clarke Collection, the walled Victorian plot, surrounding the soon to be opened Jackie Clarke Museum in Ballina, has been transformed into an urban garden, which is now open to the public.
The project has been realised through the support of Fáilte Ireland and the National Spatial Strategy Gateway, in conjunction with Mayo County Council and is just the first in a series of developments that will see the Jackie Clare collection made available to the public later this year.
The vast, priceless collection of historical Irish material which was amassed by the late Ballina business man and politician, Jackie Clarke, opens permanently in the bank building itself, which has been re-designed as a new Jackie Clarke Museum by Martello Media.
The refurbishment of the Museum has been undertaken by Fáilte Ireland and Mayo County Council in an effort to further the development of tourism in the North Mayo destination, and introduce a new top quality visitor attraction in Ballina town.
It forms a major part of Fáilte Ireland’s wider destination development plan for North Mayo, which also includes infrastructural development plans for the nearby Monasteries of the Moy, a proposed new food festival for the area centered around Salmon and Seafood, and the inclusion of the area in the larger Wild Atlantic Way Project which is currently at planning stages. To date, Fáilte Ireland has invested €1.5m in both the Building (due to open later this year) and the garden which was unveiled today.
Commenting on the opening of the Jackie Clarke Garden, Eva Dearie, Client Services Manager for Fáilte Ireland in North Mayo, said:
”The Jackie Clarke Collection is a real gem in terms of memorabilia of Ireland’s past and will be of interest to all visitors in and around Mayo North. Opening the garden of this new visitor centre during Heritage has given a preview of what is to come later in December with the opening of the building itself. A visitor centre of this standard and quality will attract people of Irish decent and with an interest in Irish history and we would hope that they will stay on for a few additional days to tour other parts of the north of Mayo”.
In keeping with the sensibilities of the late Jackie Clarke’s collection, the garden has been designed to reflect all things Irish. It contains many varieties of native plants, sourced from the Seed Savers Association where possible. Designers of the garden also created willow seats for the youngest visitors surrounded by a wild flower meadow together with an exhibition wall for artists to display their work. They utilized the only found object in the garden - an old roller - as a water feature and also incorporated an outdoor room as an all-purpose space for activities like gardening demonstrations and art classes or simply as a viewing area in wet conditions.