“Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger and will make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large.” (Quote by Mahatma Gandhi)
It all began just one year ago to the very day, when Co Galway native Commandant Michael Walsh (Retd & former aide de camp to H.E. the President of Ireland) returned from his trek having completed his walk along the Ancient Pilgrims Route, known as “The Way of St James,” ending eventually in Santiago de Compostella Galicia in Spain.
“The Way of St. James” you will remember was one of the most important Christian pilgrimage routes taken during medieval times and legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.
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This walk in the company of fellow fund raiser Yvonne Tyler had started in Holycross, Co Tipperary on Sunday 7th of April 2013 and had finished on July 11th of the same year. The original goal of Michael and Yvonne’s three month trek, was to increase an awareness of Autism not just locally but nationally here in Ireland and highlight not just its effect on family members and persons with Autism, but also to raise much needed funding for two specific Autism related charities, namely the Tús Nua Autism Residential and Resource Centre here in Thurles and Cottage Autism Network based in Co Wexford.
To use a somewhat military phrase, possibly used on occasion by Michael in the past; prior to his retirement from army life was “The mission has been accomplished,” and one year to the day, on July 11th 2014 to mark his safe return, two new ‘Sensory Gardens’ have been opened here in the magnificent Rehab Resource Centre situated at Stradavoher in Thurles.
For those less familiar with the concept of a sensory garden, same is designed with the purpose of stimulating the senses. The stimulation occurs courtesy of plants and the correct use of materials that engage one’s senses of smell, sight, touch and of course sound. These types of gardens are popular with and extremely beneficial to young adults who have sensory issues, including disabilities which include Autism.
Unveiling the gardens to the public for the first time to the Tipperary public, M/s Colleen O’Sullivan (Manager Thurles Resources Centre) pointed out that this wonderful new asset could not have been achieved without the collaboration of wonderful caring people from the backgrounds of business, charitable societies, family, friends, neighbours and her own greatly valued and caring staff members. M/s O’Sullivan was particularly complimentary of students at Thurles Community Training Centre who assisted in the construction of the landscaping and also generously donated a garden bench, latter professionally constructed by the students themselves, during recent woodwork classes.
Colleen’s remarks were once again echoed by Michael Walsh who thanked specifically; Mr Frank Alley and his Dundrum Nursery’s Team, Thurles Rotary Club, Thurles Lions Club, Thurles Community Training Centre, L.I.T Thurles, Lisheen Mines, Colaiste Eile, Upperchurch and Holycross Communities, Sr Eilis Bergin, Trica Treacy, Mary B.Lanigan-Ryan, the Rita and Matty Stapleton Nursery’s, the friends and families of those attending the Resource Centre and the many volunteers who turned up on late evenings to ensure the garden’s transformation from previous waste ground.
A basket containing Prayer Flags (Ribbons) inspired by Sr Eilis Bergin and walking companion Yvonne Tyler was also on hand in true ‘Tibetan’ tradition. Those in attendance were invited to tie a ribbon to espalier training wires, latter bearing sweet smelling Jasmine, as a reminder of the call to prayer for the future welfare of all humans everywhere, working together and thus encouraging the traits of Virtue, Goodness, Healing and Happiness.
The next stage to be progressed in this garden will be a special water feature. Same is currently being specially designed by Tipperary renowned sculptor Philip Quinn, Holycross, Tipperary.
Following the unveiling, visitors were entertained to refreshments specially provided for this truly most special of occasions.