A historic, first of its kind, sensory garden, built in a child-led project, was burnt down at the weekend at Sunday’s Well National School on Blarney Street causing €20,000 worth of damage.
The principal of the school, David Cashman said he cannot understand why anyone would want to destroy the garden and the majestic treehouse within it.
“It was built as part of a PhD project and the treehouse was designed by the children. There is nothing left of the treehouse. Thankfully the rain dampened the fire and saved some of the garden, but there is €20,000 worth of damage done.”
Mr Cashman said that the kids loved playing in the treehouse, which was built in 2010. He said the children use the garden every day and the junior and senior infants take turns having their breaks out there.
“It was built around a 300-year-old tree trunk and the kids could climb up through it and then down a slide.”
Mr Cashman said the sensory garden was a rare resource and was especially valuable in a city school.
“It was not just a normal garden, there was wild garlic and lavender growing in places, water pumps, sand pits and a pond with biodiversity growing in it.
“We were on our fifth green flag and we were in the process of developing wormeries.
“It is all about creating a sense of nature of the children. Not many city schools have such a beautiful, picturesque garden.” Speaking about the security of the garden, Mr Cashman said it would have taken a lot of effort to break in. “It was very secure.”
Discussing the effect the destruction to the garden has had on the kids, Mr Cashman said they have not let the children see the damage yet.
“The garden is at the back of the school and we have not let the children see it yet.” Despite not seeing the damage, Mr Cashman said the children are very upset by the news. “Because the children helped design it, they don’t think of it as a school garden, they think of it as their garden.”
Mr Cashman said the school is currently dealing with their insurance company, but are not sure if the garden is covered by their policy.
The school is in the process of setting up a gofundme page so concerned members of the public can contribute to the cost of rebuilding the sensory garden.