Revamped Fitzgerald Park opens to public but Diarmuid Gavin ’not invited’

Bright, fun, futuristic and a little fantastic — just what the man who gave Fitzgerald Park its name would have appreciated.

Cork’s favourite civic amenity has undergone a spectacular redevelopment through the addition of Mardyke Gardens, unveiled yesterday by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Catherine Clancy.

All the great and the good were invited or, at least, almost all. Missing was Diarmuid Gavin, the man who designed the Sky Garden pod that won a gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show. It is now the stunning centrepiece of a revamped and re-imagined Fitzgerald Park.

No sooner did he learn of yesterday’s opening than he made it clear that the transformation from a flying sky garden in Chelsea to a platform over the River Lee was not part of his vision.

“I wasn’t invited,” Gavin told Ray D’Arcy on Today FM. “I hope it is a lovely garden but it is not the garden that won the medal at Chelsea.”

The striking new features are open to the public this weekend with free events, including musical acts, children’s entertainment, yoga classes and circus skills tutoring. The front lawn provides a new setting for outdoor musical and theatrical performance with a contemporary pavilion and sunken lawn. The adjacent museum has a new plaza, while the main entrance to the park has been upgraded to provide a new arrival area adjacent to the lord mayor’s pavilion.

Gavin’s Pod provides spectacular views up and down the river, while the surrounding garden includes a central display of reflective stainless steel spheres and domes.

Speaking at the opening, Ms Clancy said the park holds a special place in the hearts of Corkonians. “A true jewel right on the banks of River Lee, the park offers so much in terms of sport, recreation, culture and history in the city. Now with the new additions, including the beautiful front lawn and the gallery garden, Fitzgerald Park is a must-see location to experience and enjoy for the people of Cork and visitors alike.”

Fáilte Ireland’s Fiona Buckley echoed the lord mayor’s remarks: “I have no doubt that this new attraction will become a ‘must-see’ on the holiday itineraries for those visiting Cork.”

Yesterday’s events also featured an exhibition at the museum in the park, coinciding with the launch of The Cork International Exhibition: 1902-1903, an illustrated history of the park’s beginnings, by Daniel Breen and Tom Spalding.

The project is the latest element in an ambitious programme of public park and amenity development in Cork City. This includes the proposed Marina Park, which will incorporate the redeveloped Páirc Uí Chaoimh; and Tramore Valley Park.

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