TAPPING into the rich history and fairy fort past of their gardens, the owners of Kilmokea are about to open Ireland's first authentic Fairy Gardens this Easter, hoping to double their business from 5,000 to 10,000 visitors per year.
Owners Emma and Mark Hewlett are putting the finishing touches on their fairy gardens and Norman and Viking settlements ahead of their grand opening on Easter Saturday, April 4.
The project was born from the storms last February which knocked nine trees in a row in the gardens.
'This time last year we had the terrible storm. We had a line of trees come down and through devastation we said "what can we do here arising from this". The actual trees were cut up and we've used the rounds as historical and information signs around the garden.'
Ms Hewlett said they decided to create something new at Kilmokea.
'Having listened to our visitors we felt we were very narrow with regards to our offering of a garden open to the public. We needed more that than to encourage the extended family down so we studied the historical site of Kilmore Quay and the local historical society used Lidar (Light Detection And Ranging) archaeological readings to map and study the sites' Viking and Norman past.'
Employing two carpenters, the Hewlett's have built a Viking and Norman settlement in miniature for children to enjoy. There are fairy rings, one of which is located inside a fairy fort.
'We are creating a fairy village inside a copse of trees. It's terribly exciting and it's very good for children as they are using their imagination and their energy to grab at something that might mot be concrete but is real to them.'
There will be beautifully decorated fairy doors on trees and tree houses.
The new fairy attraction will be revealed on a free open day on Easter Saturday. A local artist is designing a map of the seven acre gardens with all their new attractions. Season passes will be available and the café will be open throughout, along with a fairy shop.
A children's book featuring animal characters has been written and this will be read prior to children going off to explore the woodland.
'It's based on an area of the woodland where there's a redwood tree, the bottom corner of which is very central to the story. Children open the gate and leave their wish inside the tree. Some of the characters of the book will be there in some shape or form in little houses.'
A calendar of events for 2015 is currently being finalised, including meditation days in the garden, fairy card readings, garden walks for wild herbs and an outdoor performance of The Secret Garden on July 5.
Ms Hewlett said the fairy garden will be an attraction for people to come visit from far and wide.
'It's the first fairy village of its kind. We have researched that and particularly because of its fairy energy and sightings of fairies here near where the fort is. The fairy garden honours the fact that they are there.'
The new look Kilmokea Gardens will be open to the end of October each year.