Lives lost will never be forgotten at special remembrance garden
By Bernie Commins
The lives of loved ones, friends and family members who tragically died on the roads near the rural village of Ballynonty in Slieveardagh, will never be forgotten as a garden of remembrance, in their honour, was officially opened last Monday.
A huge community effort which saw neighbours and friends work side-by-side for the past six weeks ensured that the remembrance garden was completed for its unveiling which attracted a huge gathering.
Well known community worker and longtime volunteer Janie Murphy, aged 92, performed the ribbon-cutting duties in the presence of vice-chairperson of South Tipperary County Council Cllr Michael Murphy, the organising committee chaired by Cllr John Fahey, along with families whose lives have been touched by the tragedy of a fatal road traffic accident.
Thirty six people have died on the roads in and around Ballynonty over the past number of decades and photos of these people have been erected in the garden, keeping their memory alive and providing their loved ones with special place to visit them.
The remembrance garden, built on a piece of unused council-owned land, was designed by Holycross-based artist, Philip Quinn, formerly from Killenaule. A committee was formed just six weeks ago to push ahead with the idea, taking it from design to reality with the financial assistance of the South Tipperary Development Company and local fund raising initiatives, as well as help from Sr. Patricia Wall from the Slieveardagh Rural Development Company and a local Community Employment (CE) scheme, under the supervision of Tyrone Walker.
“This was a huge community effort,” said Cllr John Fahey who is the chairperson of the remembrance garden committee.
“Nearly everyone was involved, if they weren’t working there, they were there in spirit,” he said, adding that he believes that this garden is the first of its kind in Tipperary. The remembrance garden concept was something that had been in people’s minds for some time and he said that it was wonderful to finally see it come to fruition. Cllr Fahey, who walks three miles every day, said that he witnesses first-hand what it is like to be on the busy country roads nowadays, along with so much traffic. He appealed to people to ensure that they are visible while out on ythese roads.
“This garden is a reminder to everybody of how frail the human body is and I am appealing to people, when they are out walking on these roads, that they wear appropriate high-visibility vests and I would ask motorists to slow down when driving on country roads.”
Martin McGarry’s brother Johnny was killed in 1999 just a few yards from the remembrance garden. Martin is one of the many people who has rolled up his sleeves over the past two months, to work on the garden. It means a lot to him.
“This is a huge thing for all of us, it is somewhere we can go and meet others who have experienced the same tragedy.” He said that the opening of last Monday’s remembrance garden was an emotional affair for some, but overall it was a happy occasion, a celebration. And he was delighted with the huge turnout of people that attended.
He thanked Gerry Lyons and Eddie Hassett for all their help and to everyone who contributed to the project.
Cllr Fahey thanked everybody who worked so hard to reach the end result, with a special mention to Gleeson Quarries in Laffanbridge, Killenaule Stone Quarry and Perry’s Shop Ballynonty who were integral sponsors of the project, The garden was blessed by Canon Liam Ryan, parish priest of Killenaule and Fr. O’Rourke from Glengoole.
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