YOU can’t help but smile when you walk through the Tiny Feet Fairy Garden in Masseytown, Macroom. A hidden gem, it brings joy to visitors of all ages.
The garden was the brainchild of local Tidy Towns volunteer Catherine Ross Murphy, who set out to use a piece of land to create a colourful and magical park beside the Sullane River near the town centre.
The area had been a park 30 years earlier, but had fallen by the wayside, until the Tidy Towns committee brought their idea to the town council and work began in earnest in May last year.
With Cllr Martin Coughlan at the helm, Michael Burns acting chairman of the fund-raising committee, and Catherine Ross Murphy as secretary, they rallied the locals into supporting this amazing project.
“Everyone was so generous with their time and their donations,” says Cllr Coughlan. “With a team like Catherine, Anna Sheehan, Anna’s daughter Sheena, Liam Walsh, Margaret Leahy O’Keeffe and so many more, we knew every effort would be made to make this park the success that it is.”
Whether it was the auction held at the nearby Auld Triangle bar and restaurant, or the Sunday morning church collections, everyone dug deep and work has continued in an attempt to add and maintain this little piece of heaven.
As you enter the Fairy Garden, you are met with a colourful row of miniature houses where youngsters can run their dinky cars along the road or place their dolls on the benches for tea and a natter.
Miniature washing lines hang between the trees, while the birds, dogs, cats, fairies and butterflies scramble around the bases of the mature trees.
Red toadstools with white spots provide seating for small people to have a picnic, while chatting away to the many woodland creatures that are peeking out from every corner.
A wishing well covered in birds had the eye of two small girls while I was there.
Benches made from recycled plastic, supplied by a company in Ballingeary, are dotted around the park so that parents can supervise their happy children at play.
Tea sets and train tracks, fairy doors and toadstools are a feast for the eyes and the imagination.
A pathway runs along the outside as far as a gate that takes you to the river, where I spotted two kingfishers dancing on the wind.
“Sustainability and teaching the children about the environment were key considerations when designing this garden,” explains Catherine Ross Murphy.
“We use recycled products everywhere we can. The fruit trees and various plants are labelled so the children can learn while they play.”
“The local Men’s Shed have been so generous with their time and talents,” says Michael Burns. “Every item they supply is so carefully crafted’.”
It is easy to see the dedication and attention to detail that Murty Lehane, Richard Manning, Michael Crowley and the rest of the crew put into their work.
As if this weren’t enough, Martin goes on to talk me through the next part of the project. A sensory garden for autistic children is well under way and the enthusiasm for the project is palpable.
Tony Healy and Denis Leahy from the West Cork Leader programme will be two of the men that will bring this corner of the garden to life.
“See, touch and smell, is the aim of the next part of the project.
“We have been given great support and advice with regards to making the sensory garden as welcoming and enchanting as possible. There will be climbing tunnels and buttons to push and bells to ring and a rainbow of colour everywhere.
“We will be creating a path that brings the children to a flower bed where they can touch and smell the various plants. The aim is to stimulate the senses and the imagination through play.”
Every inch of this garden will make you smile.
Having visited it a few times, I’m still noticing new things that I missed before. Of course, to visit is free, but there is a donations box if you have a bob or two to spare.
You can’t help but be impressed and humbled by this community effort — people coming together to secure the happiness and enjoyment of our most vital asset, our children.
In a world where social media is distracting little minds, it is a thing of beauty to see small children chatting to one another on toadstools or having a meaningful conversation with Peter Rabbit.
I sat in the park until after it was time for small people to be in bed and wondered if the fairy men fish on the river when the sun goes down, or if the fairy mammies put out the washing while watching over their fairy children until the sun comes up and the human fairies return to play.