New gardening book a labour of love for Shirley Lanigan

Gerry Daly praises author with strong links to Clonmel

The Open Gardens of Ireland

Shirley Lanigan with her new book, The Open Gardens of Ireland.

A book written by an author with strong Clonmel connections was described as "tantalising" by Gerry Daly, the godfather of Irish gardening, when he launched it in Dublin's Hodges Figgis bookshop.

Shirley Lanigan visited 427 gardens over two years for her 400-page book ‘Open Gardens of Ireland’.

Gerry Daly said it was a hugely important book, a snapshot of the gardens in time. He said that in years to come, no matter what, the garden owners could look at what they achieved through this book.

He added that it would be used by gardeners for generations to come and that it would also help facilitate the growing number of gardening tourists, searching for places to visit in Ireland.

A keen gardener, Shirley Lanigan previously worked as a journalist and a gallery curator. She is married, has two children and lives and works in Kilkenny city.

Daughter of Paddy and Maureen Mulroy, she was reared in Dublin.

Paddy’s family came from Parnell Street, Clonmel, where they owned a pub on the corner of Anglesea Street that was originally McGraths before later becoming The Horseman on a site now occupied by Paddy Powers.

He served his apprenticeship as a mechanic in Jack O’Brien’s garage in Anglesea Street before leaving for Dublin in 1962, where he eventually owned his own garage in Drumcondra.

While living in Dublin he won the world clay pigeon shooting championship in the South Korean capital Seoul in 1978.

On his retirement in 1998 he and Maureen moved back to Clonmel where they live at Comeragh Lodge, Scrouthea West, Old Bridge, with their daughter Mary and son Billy.

To write her latest book Shirley Lanigan spent two years, starting in the spring of 2015, criss-crossing the island, visiting every garden she could find that opens its doors to the public.

These included postage stamp-sized town gardens and huge historic demesnes, roof gardens and island gardens.

As she travelled she was chased by swans and swarms of bees. She learned how to mind orphaned baby birds, barn owls and terrapins. She met herds of swimming cattle and work parties of pigs, people building follies and repairing miniature castles.

She spent long hours entertaining Dutch hitchhikers and got marooned and surrounded by Loyalist parades and herded by sheep dogs around the roads of Cork.

She found 427 gardens and met 427 owners and gardeners.

And as she did with her previous two books, 'Guide to Irish Gardens' and 'Pocket Guide to the Best 100 Gardens in Ireland', she has promised never to do it again.


The featured gardens include

Ballyboy House, Clogheen, Cahir;

Dundrum Nurseries;

Fairy Hill, Clonmel;

Killurney, Ballypatrick, Clonmel;

Kilmacomma Garden, Clonmel;

Petrovska Garden, Old Spa Road, Clonmel

and the Swiss Cottage, Cahir.