Living Leeside: Planting roots in the Rebel county

Living Leeside: Planting roots in the Rebel county

Juulika Leahy and her husband Daniel run Carewswood Garden Centre & Cafe near Castlemartyr, Co Cork. Juulika is from Estonia and has been in Ireland since 2005.

ROAMING the countryside with her rescue dog Sam is one of Juulika’s favourite things to do in County Cork where she lives with her husband Daniel.

Living in the Rebel County since 2005, Juulika, 36, originally from Estonia, moved over for a holiday but ended up meeting her Corkonian husband on Oliver Plunkett Street after a night out and staying here.

“I originally came to Ireland just for six months. Our first location was in Killarney. After the season died down in this popular tourist town we decided to move to Cork. I remember being so excited about it — Cork was the culture capital of Europe then.

“I met Daniel when I was 22, he was my friend’s co-worker friend. We were outside the Oliver Plunkett bar, which was Scott’s nightclub back then.”

Juulika said she knew immediately he was the one.

“I knew it straight away,” Juulika said “and I’m still here. I met somebody and I’m so happy, if I hadn’t met someone, maybe I would have moved on.”

Working together 

After a few years together, Juulika and Daniel went into business together co-running a garden centre and cafe in Carewswood.

Juulika Leahy and her husband Daniel run Carewswood Garden Centre near Castlemartyr. 
Juulika Leahy and her husband Daniel run Carewswood Garden Centre near Castlemartyr. 

“We opened in 2013 and we run it together.”

Before opening the centre in Carewswood, Juulika worked in the food industry and completed a number of courses at Cork’s College of Commerce in business and accounting. Juulika always wanted to open her own cafe. At the time, Daniel was working in a garden centre.

“One day Daniel came home and said there was a lease available at Carewswood and we just went for it.”

Juulika said the pair love working together. “It is fabulous. We are very honest with each other, which can be hurtful, but it works well.”

The garden centre, which is an acre in size, is an oasis of calm and serenity, according to Juulika.

“There is great satisfaction in working with plants. I love plants, I think they are important for your mental health, I think people should be surrounded by nature. People need to connect more to nature.”

Juulika said while she loves plants; at home in Ladysbridge, where she and Daniel live, they have just about three or four plants.

“It is a bit like the cobbler’s children having no shoes, We work around 100 hours a week so we don’t have a lot of time for that.”

Since Covid, Juulilka said that things were very busy.

There is a high demand for plants at the moment, everybody is at home and buying plants is a lovely thing to do, it gives you great satisfaction.”

'Cork is my home'

The Estonian native said she loves living in Cork.

Juulika Leahy is from Estonia and has been in Ireland since 2005. Pic; Larry Cummins
Juulika Leahy is from Estonia and has been in Ireland since 2005. Pic; Larry Cummins

“I really enjoy the Irish countryside, the fields, woods and the rough seaside, old country houses. Luckily I live right in the middle of the countryside and I am spoilt with the choice of beautiful locations for long walks with my dog.”

Juulika said she thinks she knows Cork better than her husband Daniel, who is from Ballinlough.

“I lived in the city centre for years. I loved the English Market and Fitzgerald Park. I have a keen interest in old buildings and I am always noticing things.

“I’m very independent and when I met Daniel I was showing him things about Cork. I think sometimes people take things for granted.”

Juulika said she has done a lot of the tourist activities in Cork as well as living in the city and the county and she is always looking for new places in Cork to visit.

In terms of learning new habits, Juulika said gossiping is something she picked up since moving to the Rebel County.

“Gossiping is definitely a Cork thing, I asked my husband Daniel what I picked up since I moved here and he said the same thing. I was in town the other day and there was a funeral and I asked who it was. I would never have asked that before. I’m all about the news in Cork.”

Pre-pandemic, Juulika used to get home to her family and friends three or four times a year but since Covid, she has not managed to make it back to her home country.

“It’s not all bad. Since Covid, I have more time and I am on Facetime and Whatsapp more catching up with the family. I miss my family a lot, I have nieces and nephews that are growing up fast. Hopefully, I get to go and visit soon.”

Juulika said she feels like she is very settled in Cork and would like to stay here in the future.

“Cork is my home, it is where I grew up, where I became an adult and grew my confidence. I absolutely love and adore Cork. Cork will have always a special place in my heart.”

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