2019 Speakers Programme

  The 2019 Galway Garden Festival will take place on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July, at Claregalway Castle. This will be the 10th year of an unique and charming garden event which has developed a national profile. It  will showcase a wonderful gathering of the very best of rare and special plant traders from all over Ireland,  present a programme of expert talks, a fine artisan food and crafts arena including the best of ‘Made in Galway’, as well as a host of musical entertainment and open-air performance. 


 12.30pm Gerry Hussey 'Landscapes of the Mind'
 1.30pm Fionnuala Fallon 'The Flower Arranger's Garden'
 2.30pm Joy Larkcom 'A Life just Vegetating'
 3.30pm Br Colmán Ó Clabaigh 'In a Monastery Garden: Monks and Healthcare in Medieval Ireland'
 12.30pm Poet Mary O'Malley 'Earthly Delights - a miscellany of gardens and gardening in Literature'
 1.30pm Dr Cillian Roden 'Where are the garden walls of Maigh Seola?'
 2.30pm Dr Matthew Jebb 'A view from the Palmhouse: the cultural landscape of the National Botanic Gardens'
 3.30pm Enda McEvoy & Seamus Sheridan Culinary Botanicals


Gerry Hussey

During the past 10 years we have been honoured to welcome many notable speakers not just in Gardening and Horticulture, ecology and environment but also Poets and experts in health and well being.  On Saturday, we welcome Gerry Hussey who runs ‘Soul Space’ – a remarkable one day event held by leading experts in mental, physical and spiritual well-being – which is held again at Claregalway Castle this September 15th.

Gerry Hussey is a highly respected psychologist whose specialties include performance psychology and motivational skills development.

He is probably best known for his work in preparing individuals and teams in professional sport  and in corporate organisations. He has prepared and led teams for success in All-Ireland championships, Heineken cups, World cups and Olympic games in arenas of Sailing, Boxing, cycling an more

Gerry has developed a series of wellness programmes that he runs in Ireland and internationally where he facilitates and coaches clients to strip away learned behaviours and thought processes with aim of reconnecting with best version of themselves and awakening inner passions and abilities.

Fionnuala Fallon (Irish Times Gardening Editor)


Joy Larkcom

Joy Larkcom has been growing and writing about vegetables for more than forty years and is considered a  leading expert on vegetable growing in temperate climates. Her work has been deeply influenced by travels in Europe, China, Japan, Canada and the USA, searching for new edible plants and cultivation techniques. With the help of her late husband, Don Pollard, this has led to the introduction of many exciting salad and oriental vegetables into our gardens, and the concepts of making kitchen gardens as productive, and beautiful as possible, and the appearance of mixed salad packs in supermarkets today.

Joy is a well-known author, journalist and lecturer, and has taken part in many radio and TV programmes in English speaking countries, and lectured all over the world. Her books include 'Creative Vegetable Gardening', 'Oriental Vegetables', 'Salads for Small Gardens', ‘Vegetables for Small Gardens,  'The Salad Garden', and  the classics' Grow your Own Vegetables' and the Royal Horticultural Society’s 'The Vegetable Garden Displayed'. Her last, and final book, she says ,is  ‘Just Vegetating’ - part anthology, part autobiography - published in 2012.

Joy and her husband retired to West Cork in 2002, where they created a fan shaped potager on a windswept site. Joy, now in her eighties, is attempting, not altogether successfully, to master the art of downsizing.

Joy won the Garden Writer of the Year award three times, and was awarded the prestigious Veitch Memorial Medal for services to horticulture in 1993. In 2003 she was presented with the Garden Writers' Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr Colmán Ó Clabaigh

Distinguished Scholar, Dr Colman O'Clabaigh, will look at three areas: the evidence for medicinal herbs being grown in medieval Ireland, the use of charms and medicinal poultices by priests and religious and the nature of the Irish medieval hospital.

Dr O'Clabaigh is an outstanding historian and an outstanding interpreter of Ireland's late medieval and monastic traditions.  He has a prodigious output and has written, edited and co-authored numerous publications.  His book 'The Franciscans in Ireland - from reform to reformation 1400-1534' published in 2002 won considerable international acclaim.  In 2012 an even more ambitious work 'The Friars in Ireland' was published that looked at the mendicant movement as a whole from beginnings in 1224 through to 1540 as the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII reached its peak.  This book has been described as a 'Monumental work ... of both national and international significance' and it was honoured by the award in 2013 of the NUI Prize for Irish Historical Research.  It is also a delight to read.

Br Colman explores all aspects of mendicant life, its Patrons and Critics, literary and devotional practice, Art and Architecture.  He also brings unique and warm-hearted perspective as he lives among that band of brothers that is the Benedictine Community at Glenstal Abbey.

In addition to his scholarship, Dr O'Clabaigh writes with style and wit and doesn't always confine his writings to the more laudable aspects of monastic life.  He was recently a visiting scholar in Irish studies at Boston College and gave their annual Burns Library lecture.  Its memorable title - with a nod to the singer Paul Simon - was acclaimed as Best Lecture title ever ........'50 ways to cleave your Brother: Mayhem, Mischief and Misfits in Medieval Irish Monasteries.'



Mary O'Malley (Poet)

Mary OMalley pic

POET MARY O’MALLEY – ‘Earthly Delights’. Join us for a miscellany of gardens and gardening from literature. What did Cortez discover, ready flowering in a garden in Mexico?  Who wanted to see ‘in a flower the face of God’? And why did the mower stop in Philip Larkin’s sublime poem, ‘the Mower’

Real gardens, dream gardens with snails, and scent and silver apples and a golden pear. Mary O’Malley presents a cornucopia of  midsummer pickings from writers, old and new’ at Claregalway Castle on Sunday

From Eden to Sissinghurst with diversions at home and abroad, astroll through lieratur’s gardens and landscapes, guided by writers, from Blake to Vita Sackville West and Victor Hugo, via Gerald Manley Hopkins weeds shooting’long and lovely and lush’ and God in Genesis, where gardening, and the pleasures it brings, began.

 “..no gardener would be a gardener if he did not live in hope”. Vita Sackville West

Dr Cillian Roden


Dr Matthew Jebb


Enda McEvoy & Seamus Sheridan


For details on Past Festival Speakers  click here.




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