Gavin: Garden project like ‘working with Father Ted’

Celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin has poured further fuel on the fire in the Sky Garden row by claiming that working with Cork City Council and Fáilte Ireland on the project was like “working with Father Ted... like Craggy Island”.

Mr Gavin made the comments on last night’s Late Late Show, during which he also claimed that he got no help marketing Cork or Ireland from either organisation when he launched the garden at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

It is not the first time Mr Gavin has taken a swipe at Cork City Council and Fáilte Ireland.

In December, during an interview with Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio One, he claimed that while he was building the garden he was without a contract, had not been paid a cent, and could not get meetings with Fáilte Ireland or Cork City Council.

“Our suppliers had taken out loans to build this garden and people were sleeping on floors wherever they could, but I couldn’t pull out,” Mr Gavin said at the time.

He also claimed that the Avatar-inspired garden, which won gold at the Chelsea Flower Show, would end up costing the hard-pressed Irish taxpayer €2.3m.

Last night, Cork City Council manager Tim Lucey said the local authority was planning to relocate part of the Sky Garden into what will be a major revamp of the Mardyke Gardens at Fitzgerald Park.

Mr Lucey said he would not be commenting on Mr Gavin’s latest claims, as he had not seen the Late Late Show because he is on a Cork trade delegation to San Francisco.

However, he said the “council was moving on with Fáilte Ireland and had appointed consultants who were currently carrying out a detailed design of the Mardyke Gardens project”.

It is understood that Mr Gavin was informed he could tender for that consultancy job, but did not engage with the council.

Last week, Mr Lucey claimed the celebrity gardener’s suggestion of a €2.3m price tag for the Sky Garden were grossly wide of the mark.

He said the design, build, and display of the garden at the Chelsea Flower Show cost €567,280.

The council, however, intends to spend a further €1.8m revamping the Mardyke Gardens.

Part of Mr Gavin’s Sky Garden will be incorporated into the northern end of Fitzgerald Park.

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