Date for your diary:
Our next event is coffee/lunch at The Goat on Wednesday 12 June. Meet at The Goat (in the alcove) at 11.30 am for coffee and stay for lunch, which is served from 12.30 pm onwards. If you are thinking of joining the Sandmillers this would be a good time to test the waters. No one is too young or too old – just be old enough to gain entrance to The Goat!

Secrets in Dublin Place names
On Wednesday 13 March, Cathy Scuffil enthralled us with an illustrated talk entitled ‘Secrets in Dublin Place names’. Cathy is currently working as Historian in Residence with Dublin City Council – South Central.

The origins of Dublin can be found in the names of places and streets that are all around us. All we need to do is wonder what is behind the naming of a place, e.g. Drimnagh is ‘Droimneach’ in Irish, meaning sandy ridge. Crumlin is ‘Croim ghlinn’ in Irish, meaning crooked glen, and Kimmage is ‘Camaigh uisce’, meaning winding water. Ship Street near Dublin Castle is a fairly short street name in English, but ‘ship’ actually comes from ‘sheep’, not ‘ship’. So in Irish the street sign reads ‘Sráid na gCaorach Mhór’ – and it’s one of the longest street signs we have in Dublin!
Gloria Smythe

The Preacher and the Prelate
On 10 April Patricia Byrne spoke to us about her book The Preacher and the Prelate: the Achill Mission Colony and the Battle for Souls in Famine Ireland.

We had a large attendance, which was further swelled by a couple from Kilkenny that just happened to be passing and called in. Read on:

‘We were visiting our daughter in Ranelagh last week and on our way back from shopping when we noticed the doors of the Church of Ireland were open. Having an interest in churches and old buildings we availed of the opportunity to see inside. What we found was a beautifully maintained church.

Noting that a lecture was in progress we were about to leave when we were kindly asked to join the group. We were delighted to do so when we learned the talk was about the attempt to establish a Protestant settlement on Achill in the 19th century. We had visited Achill last year and had come across the remains of the settlement but knew very little about it.  The lecture was interesting, comprehensive and very well delivered. It was no surprise that five years of work and research had gone into it.  The question-and-answer session at the end was very lively and informative. Well done to the organisers – such lectures are worthy of local support and we’d certainly attend further talks.’
Eddie and Frances Kennedy, Kilkenny

Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens
On a wet day in May the Sandmillers visited Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens in Co Wicklow. The 49-acre estate at Kilmacurragh is a treasure trove of many different species of trees and flowering shrubs mainly of the rhododendron family. As our guide for the morning told us, there are azaleas and whilst all azaleas are rhododendrons not all nor any rhododendron can be azaleas.

Arriving at the estate in a somewhat less than perfect climate we dashed for the tearooms to avail of the caffeine promised on the board outside. Having enjoyed our elevenses, we assembled outside to be met by our guide for the morning. He appeared to be undaunted by the rain as we sallied forth up to the open ground in front of the ruins of the Queen Anne house once occupied by the Acton family. They had lived here since Cromwellian times and have over the last centuries sought out rare and exotic trees and shrubs for the estate. The parklands are now in the care of staff from the Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

In front of the house there is a broad expanse of meadow that has been planted with native Irish wildflowers such as orchids where once was smooth clipped grass lawns. Unfortunately we were there too early in the year to see this but it is only one of the things that will bring one back to visit when the weather is a little more clement.

We stood beneath towering trees to listen to the guide’s words describing the richness of the varieties of tree species that have been collected from the Far East and India and the Southern Hemisphere. Here they are allowed to flourish in the deep topsoil and unique growing conditions that have allowed so many non-native shrubs and trees to thrive. We admired the giant sequoias, rare pines and towering rhododendron with their purple, crimson and white flowers tumbling in profusion from top to toe of the plants.

It is a place where sight, sound and scents are to be sampled and enjoyed, which we all surely did despite the drenching received from the overhead trees wherever we stopped. We glimpsed the wide walks, the monks’ fish ponds, and admired the Buddhist prayer flags strung among trees native of the Himalayas.

We were finally returned to the teashop where we were welcomed in order to avail of a choice of hot dishes for lunch – a welcome arrival after our two-hour guided mini tour of the expansive acreage of Kilmacurragh. As with all outings, travelling with old friends and new amongst the Sandmillers, the warmth of laughter and friendship made our time together enjoyable and we can plan to go back to Kilmacurragh when the climate is more propitious.
Maureen Carmody

Have a great summer and see you at the AGM in 11 September!

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