WATCH: Diarmuid Gavin to work his magic on ‘Field of Dreams’ farm project for Down Syndrome Cork

John Sweetnam,Diarmuid Gavin, and, back, from left, Ray O'Callaghan, Jason Bane, Tony McGrath, and Jude O'Keeffe, Pic: Larry Cummins

Celebrity garden designer Diarmuid Gavin has agreed to work his magic on a farm project for adults with Down Syndrome which has just secured planning.

Down Syndrome Cork (DSC) said they are delighted that Mr Gavin has agreed to be an ambassador for their pioneering €500,000 Field of Dreams scheme on the western outskirts of Cork City.

He has prepared preliminary designs, believed to include his trademark striking structures, and is preparing more detailed plans after council planners sanctioned the project this week.

Believed to be the first and largest scheme of its kind in Ireland, the ambitious horticultural farm project on a three-acre site off the Clash Rd in Curraheen, leased from the Munster Agricultural Society, will teach DSC clients to grow their own fruit and vegetables, and provide a range of education, training, and work opportunities in a “safe, secure and inspirational environment”.

DSC chairman Ray O’Callaghan said services for people with Down Syndrome drop off after the age of 18.

“We want to create a bit of magic — somewhere magical for our kids — and something people will be proud of,” he said.

“Diarmuid has been fantastic and very supportive. He wants to put some magic into this garden. And we know that he will produce the magic that we need.”

Mr O’Callaghan, whose daughter, Grace, 10, has Down Syndrome, said the project was inspired by the 1989 film Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner.

“We want society to recognise that they should have the same opportunities as everyone,” he said.

“Grace, and children like her, have loads of ability and we want to bring that out. We want to help make a future for them, a place where they will have real-life experiences, where they will have a meaningful role, where they will feel wanted, and a place to give them hope.”

An artist’s impression of the garden.
An artist’s impression of the garden.

Committee member,Tony McGrath, whose son Darragh, 7, attends the special unit in St Columba’s school in Douglas, said his employers, PM Group, have provided engineering, architectural, and project management services on a pro bono basis.

“We are now reaching out to other building providers who could potentially support the project, in terms of supports and materials, to get in touch and help us make this a reality,” he said.

More than 30 adults have already expressed an interest in securing places there. Work on phase one could start within weeks.


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