A commemorative ceremony has been held at Castlemartyr Resort in East Cork to honour the life and achievements of a local horticulturist who landscaped parts of the White House in Washington DC.
John Saul, a 19th-century horticulturist, businessman, and author went to Washington in the mid-1800s.
He was responsible for landscaping many of the city’s public spaces including those associated with the White House such as the Mall, Smithsonian Grounds, the Square south of President’s Park (now The Ellipse), and Lafayette Square.
In 1854, he became the first chairman of the Washington Parks Commission.
He also began a business that today sees his descendants among America’s wealthiest bankers and property agents.
The link between Washington and Castlemartyr was discovered when Paul Stanton, son of local TD David Stanton, came across a plaque of John Saul in Washington. Liz and Dave Maddox of Castlemartyr Community Council made contact with the Saul family who agreed to have a replica plaque produced by B2B Signs, Cork.
In June, former US president Bill Clinton unveiled the plaque within the resort’s hotel.
Yesterday’s ceremony was held at a 300 year-old copper beech tree by New Woods Walk. “It was more of a public occasion for local people,” says Liz Maddox who, along with her Irish-American husband Dave, organised the event, which was hosted by the council.
The plaque’s permanent location stands on estate grounds once gardened by John Saul alongside his father James and grandfather Barnabas. Unveiling the commemoration, Barbara Murray, the mayor of Co Cork, said she was “proud as a fellow East Corkonian to be associated with the establishment of the new link between the region and Washington”.
Mr Maddox read a message on behalf of John Saul’s grandson, Frank Saul II, one of the 500 richest men in the US. Mr Saul thanked all involved and said he and the family were “grateful for the elegant way the community are honouring our forebe-arer who was the first person to leave the old sod and come to America”.
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