Releasing balloons at the official opening of the Ballylynch Remembrance Garden
The official opening of Ballylynch Remembrance Garden on Sunday afternoon was a proud community celebration but also a poignant occasion for the estate's residents, who gathered to commmemorate deceased relatives and friends.
The Garden dedicated to 52 residents of the 47 year-old estate, who have passed away, was officially opened and blessed with a prayer service celebrated by Carrick-on-Suir & Faugheen Parish Priest Fr Paul Waldron, Fr Jimmy Browne and Fr Selvanathan Soosai.
Ballylynch residents Pauline Kenny, Ann Ryan, Brian Blackmore and Ashlyn Walsh recited readings and Anthony Dignam recited a poem at the service.
Fifty-two balloons were also released and the ceremony concluded with a performance from the Carrick-on-Suir Republican Flute Band.
The garden is located at a green area in the estate and its centre piece is an old high stone wall with planted flower beds and benches at its foot.
On the wall is erected a stone plaque listing the names of the 52 deceased Ballylynch residents and to the left and right of it are individual family plaques inscribed with personal messages for their loved ones.
Ballylynch Residents Association has spent the past year fundraising and working on the project. It's young chairman 20 year-old Lee Roche, who revived the Association last year, is delighted with what the residents have achieved and the tremendous community spirit they have shown.
"I started the Residents Association because I thought the estate needed something. It was going backwards and I wanted to see it going forwards. I spoke with some residents and they came up with the idea of the remembrance garden,” he explained.
The Association got the ball rolling on the project by setting up a monthly 50/50 draw last October to raise funds. It also organised a successful karaoke benefit night in a local bar in June.
Lee paid tribute to local businesses who also sponsored the project and thanked Tipperary Co. Council and South Tipperary Development Company for their support.
The Association's volunteers spent about six weeks developing the garden this summer. The stone wall, which was defaced with graffiti, was sandblasted to clean it up before the planting started. Quality Recycling sponsored the sandblasting. Ballylynch-born businessman Jason Fleming sponsored two of the garden's benches and the estates residents purchased a third bench from money they raised. The Association invested €250 of its funds on flowers and shrubs and some plants were also donated by residents. The Co. Council contributed by creating a footpath, Lee added.
Ann Marie Cooke along with her husband Charlie are the Residents Association's gardeners, who picked out and purchased the plants for the garden.
She was one of the first residents to move into Ballylynch in 1970 and remembers the garden's stone wall was an orchard wall from the old farm on which the estate was built.
She said the official opening of the garden was an occasion of mixed emotions for Ballylynch residents.
"It was sad and it was lovely," she said. "And we can be proud of ourselves today," she added looking around at the finished garden.
Among the residents remembering deceased loved ones at the ceremony was Tina Walsh, whose 23 year-old son Craig died tragically in a car accident.
"Craig was a great young fellow. He died four years ago but it's like it was yesterday," said Tina from Mountain View. " It's lovely to come up here to sit down. This garden has really brought the community together," she said.
Co. Council Community Liasion Officer Tess Collins said Ballylynch's residents have shown brilliant energy in creating this garden and it was a pleasure to work with them.
"The community totally bought into this project. It wasn't a battle. People just came out of the woodwork and got involved."
Carrick-on-Suir Sinn Fein Cllr David Dunne, said the garden was one of the best things to happen in Ballylynch
“ This is one of the best days for the community and this garden is a fitting tribute to all the people from the estate who have passed away. The community deserve great credit and there are many unsung heroes here who have put a huge amount of effort into this project,” he told The Nationalist.