Japanese garden honours Irish hero back on the old sod
THE Japanese Ambassador to Ireland has formally begun work on a new garden which will honour "the most well-known Irishman in Japan" and form a cultural bridge between the two countries.
His excellency Chihiro Atsumi yesterday turned the sod on the €500,000 one-hectare garden project at Tramore House in Co Waterford which is being jointly funded by local agencies and the Japanese World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund.
The project will commemorate writer Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, inset, who spent his boyhood summers in Tramore with his grand-aunt Sarah Brenane, in the mid-19th century and later went to live in Japan where he was known as Koizumi Yakumo.
Yesterday's sod-turning coincided with Patrick Hearn's birthday in 1850, while the garden was inspired by a visit by his great-grandson, Professor Koizumi Bon, to Tramore in 2012.
Situated in a prominent position in the old town centre, overlooking the strand and streets where the young Hearn spent early summers, the grounds already include some of the essential components of a Japanese strolling garden along with the key structural features, rock and water.
The garden concept, which received a grant of €41,860 from the Japan world exposition project, was initially developed by Agnes Aylward, a director of Tramore Development Trust, in cooperation with Martin Curran of MBC Landscaping who is drawing from his experience in Japan to manage the garden construction.
The storyline of the garden will reflect Hearn's colourful life as he journeyed from Ireland to America and finally Japan.
When completed, it will function as an educational garden of Teagasc, Kildalton College, and the Waterford Institute of Technology.