Revamp of city park to get under way within months

A Victorian exhibition garden, a sensory garden, and Diarmuid Gavin’s controversial Sky Garden will be installed in Fitzgerald Park in Cork as part of upgrade works starting in October.

The Avatar-inspired sky garden won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011 and attracted headlines due to its cost and a row between Gavin and Cork City Council.

Council plans for the Mardyke Gardens include “an iconic contemporary garden”, the restoration of the Fr Mathew Memorial Fountain, a sensory garden, and a fruit and vegetable garden housed in a Victorian-style glasshouse, with no mention of Mr Gavin’s Sky Garden.

The garden concept included a sky pod centrepiece hanging from a crane about 30m above ground, but former Cork mayor Terry Shannon said it was never planned to “hang” in Cork.

“We were never considering that it would hang; it was always going to be on the ground in Cork,” he told local radio yesterday.

He said Mr Gavin was paid €90,000 for the Sky Garden: €60,000 in fees and €30,000 on materials.

The garden, which is in storage at Cork’s Showgrounds, will be relocated to Fitzgerald Park as part of a €3m upgrade to the Mardyke area.

Under its new guise as an “iconic contemporary garden” it will incorporate a pod to be used as an elevated performance space.

Creative lighting will allow for the pod to serve as a performance space both day and night.

The fountain and pond were created for the Cork Industrial Exhibition of 1902. The fountain will be restored with additional water features, aquatic planting and a state of the art illuminated water feature.

Redevelopment of the pond area will include a sensory garden, focused focus on plants with enhanced scent and texture.

The Fireman’s Rest, a cast-iron structure of historical importance, will be renovated and installed as a park security base.

A bandstand constructed in the park in the 1970s will be demolished and replaced, while a new slipway for boats to enter the River Lee at low tide will be constructed.


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