The June bank holiday in Ireland can mean many things for many families. Traditionally, it’s the kickoff to the summer with the annual family BBQ – if the sun shines – or packing the kids in the car for a long weekend away down the coast.
Having recently returned to Ireland after spending some time living in New York, I decided to stay up in the capital over the holiday weekend, one that saw the sun shine over the River Liffey and Dublin begin to bloom in the glorious summer weather.
I strolled up to the Phoenix Park to attend the Bloom festival, Ireland's largest garden and food festival and a highlight for green-fingered enthusiasts, foodies and those simply who enjoy a great family day out.
The festival showcases 30 exquisite show-gardens from the very best of Ireland's landscape gardeners and designers as well as over 120 food producers. I encountered an an enchanting sense of ‘Irishness’ as I entered the park.
Children were running to the ice-cream trucks to enjoy an ice-cream and the five day festival reminded me how wonderful Dublin and Ireland can be in the summer. In recent times we have heard much of the economic crash in Ireland and much about the mass exodus of young graduates leaving the country.
As a recent returnee to Dublin, the ambiance at this year’s Bloom festival gives hope to those living abroad and afraid to return home for fear that they won’t fit into the Ireland they left behind and not feel the prosperity they may be feeling abroad.
This weekend's Bloom festival showed that families are rediscovering that community spirit and there is also a certain flow of cash re-emerging. As I looked around different gardens and embraced the spirit of Dublin, there was a sense of an Irish renaissance that people are afraid to talk about.
Although many people with mortgages are still trying to escape negative equity, there is hope for those who are away and long to come home.
It may only be a garden festival in Dublin on a summer's weekend, but to witness parents watching their children run carefree through the gardens and an older Irish generation recount how much Ireland continues to evolve made me think that an Irish life isn’t as bad as we fear.
Over the weekend judges meticulously observed and deliberated before announcing the results, which saw multi-award-winning garden designer Kevin Dennis from Raheny in Dublin crowned overall winner for his garden, 'Green City Life.'
For those who wonder what Bloom is all about then check this out.