Since Spring 2016, the Sensory Garden has been developed to stimulate the five senses. The garden is a refuge for everyone to enjoy, particularly for those with impaired senses.
The continuous development and maintenance of the garden is co-ordinated by Margaret Mandal, Moate Community School, and is carried out by the current group of Transition Year students, young adults from St Hilda’s Services, as well as volunteers in the community.
The garden has many key features: –
Planters are dedicated to each of our senses; sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. For example, the hexagonal shaped planter contains herb plants of lavender, oregano, chives and lots more to stimulate our sense of smell.
The Water Feature consists of a double wall of over 300 tiles, all reflecting the senses or various aspects of the park. These tiles were designed and produced by groups of Transition Year students and the young adults of St Hilda’s.
The Butterfly Garden features plants sourced to attract butterflies and their associated caterpillars. The group designed a poster highlighting the lifecycle of the butterfly and the common species found in the area, many of which are under threat. The group also used recycled materials to make attractive features with the butterfly theme to attract and entertain visitors to the Garden.
The Well Feature is constructed from old tractor tyres and is planted with trailing plants. Its colourful paintwork is stimulating to our sense of sight.
The Mix n’ Match Wooden Puzzle is currently in development. It is an X’s and O’s style puzzle with nine spinning cubes, each having shapes on 4 sides. People can spin the cubes and match the rows and columns.
The Rehab Tullamore group designed and produced eye catching Mosaics which can be found on the south facing wall of the shed in the garden.
Moate Community School past pupil Gormlaith Mandal designed and painted an Art Mural for the Sensory Garden in Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park. The painting, which is 8ft X 4ft, consists of the face of a girl with her hair flowing out. The radiant colours of the hair, eyes, flowers and butterflies in the painting symbolise various aspects of the Sensory Garden, in particular the Butterfly Garden.
The Meandering Path is currently being designed and produced by the group. It consists of tactile materials of various textures, which people can walk on, feeling the various surfaces, thus stimulating the sense of touch.
In 2016 and 2017, the Moate Community School students were awarded the Best Action Award and the Grow Award, respectively, for their project in the Sensory Garden at the national ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards.
In 2018, the students were awarded with the Best Schools Environmental project by the Westmeath County Council at Belvedere House, Mullingar.
In 2019, the group were recognised as an ‘Outstanding Group’ at a national level by Volunteers Ireland for their outstanding contribution to the maintenance and development of the Sensory Garden.
In 2020, the project was one of the five groups selected in the community services category of the regional Garda Youth Awards.
The Moate Community School students give regular tours to create awareness of benefits of the garden, including tours with groups with impaired senses linked with NCBI.
When asked about the project, one of the students said “For us as young people, we are delighted to have the opportunity to be able to meet and make friends with the young adults of St Hilda’s in such a fun and relaxed environment, working on our activities in the garden.”
Funding for the Sensory Garden has come from various fundraisers: Halloween Spooktacular and Christmas Experience, The National Lottery and Moate Vintner’s Group. Midland Amenity Park at Dún Na Sí acknowledges with gratitude the contribution of local individuals and groups: – Moate Community School, St Hilda’s Services, Tús Nua RehabCare (Tullamore), Frank Kelly (FK Developments), Caroline O’Dowd (O’Dowd Nurseries, Mount Temple), Olive Quinn, Community Employment workers in the park and Moate Men’s Shed.