The Luisne Garden
The Sláinte Woodland Project, The Luisne Garden , was funded by the National Lottery through the Department of Health Lottery Fund and supported by the Heritage Department of Kildare County Council.
The Luisne garden was designed by Mark Grehan, award-winning, freelance landscape designer, to enhance the existing woodland space and create an environment to promote health and wellbeing for all ages. The purpose of the garden is aligned with the United Nations Principles for Older Persons which states that ‘Older Persons should be enabled to maintain or regain the optimum level of wellbeing - physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual’. The development addresses some of the broader determinants of health as outlined in the Healthy Ireland Framework by supporting lifelong health and wellbeing.
The garden was officially opened by the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People on November 8th 2016.
McAuley Place has been endorsed by President Michael D. Higgins as exceptional “the idea of having 53 Apartments, of having a community facility, of having a recreational space, of having a Tea Rooms, and, that it is intergenerational in the middle of Naas - there is something just wonderful - it is exceptional!”
A pathway meanders through the centre of the woodland garden. Re-cycled granite windowsills, salvaged from the former McAuley Place convent building, are used to provide interesting seating. An old stone wall, spanning the length of the garden has been restored by Heritage Stonemasons and a variety of new trees and shrubs, including native Irish ferns and Hawthorn hedging has been planted to create interest all year round.
Raised beds have been built to cultivate vegetables and herbs. Potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and herbs have already been grown successfully by the residents of McAuley Place. Work is also underway to develop an outdoor performance/exhibition area at the end of the garden to provide artists with a platform to perform or display their talents in a very unique setting. With support from Kildare County Council’s Heritage Department, it is planned to engage an Ecologist to draw up details of the garden’s wildlife for display and distribution to local schools. An existing Gothic-style Summerhouse is to be restored and will provide a peaceful destination beside the Mill Race stream after a walk through the garden. McAuley Place is very grateful for the anonymous donation received to restore the Summerhouse and welcomes further donations to commence Phase 2 of the garden project.
Funding is also required for the development of a Health through Learning Centre in an existing building adjacent to the garden. Work has started on the restoration of this building which dates back to the mid 1800s when the Sisters of Mercy first established a convent in Naas. When complete, the facility will provide a community lounge, three creative/making rooms and accommodation for an artist in residence. It will be open to the entire community. Funding is urgently needed for this project and all donations will be most welcomed.
According to Margharita Solon, Vice Chair of McAuley Place, “the garden will continue to grow and be maintained as a natural woodland allowing nature to take its place and providing all who enter it with a unique opportunity to be part of a health giving environment. The Health through Learning Centre, in tandem with the Luisne Garden, will be a huge addition to the town of Naas. It will be a space where all ages in the community can connect together, regardless of age, ability or disability, where arts and crafts will be used as tools for engagement and to enhance wellbeing, and where tourists will be able to engage with the living history of Naas while meeting members of our wonderful community.
NATURE NURTURES & AREN’T WE ALL …. BETTER TOGETHER?”