Rathwood, in Tullow, County Carlow, is adding to its latest entertainment attractions by building a maze in the gardens. However, this is no ordinary maze as it maps the entire island of Ireland, all 32 counties, in relative size.
Rathwood already boasts a range of activities aimed at providing a fun day for visitors to the Carlow based destination center. There is a permanent and well fitted out children’s playground, the Rathwood train, woods filled with animals including geese and deer, an annual Christmas village and the Woodlands Falconry with its rare birds of prey. All of these attractions have cost the guts of €250,000 to erect and maintain.
Owner and director of Rathwood, Patrick Keogh, explains the rationale of adding the Ireland shaped maze.
He said, “We had been thinking about the Gathering and how we might attract people to come to Rathwood on their visit home and we just got a bit carried away. I had the idea one day. I have always wanted a maze but I wanted some purpose behind it. Given the year that is in it, it seemed perfect that we created a mini Ireland.”
The Rathwood Maze of Ireland is an ambitious project. Patrick engaged his brother and draughtsman John Keogh to lay out the design and oversee the planting of the beech hedge. There are hundreds of beech trees planted and these have come from Derrylee Trees provided by specialist William Blackley. Currently the young trees are five feet in height but will grow to over ten feet to allow for adults to also explore and perhaps get lost in the maze.
“The idea is to combine fun and education,” says Patrick.
“It surprised us as the design was laid out. Unless you walk through a proportionate map of Ireland you might not have any idea that Carlow is so small or Cork so vast. Even which counties overlapped with others was an eye opener.”
Rathwood will open the maze in July and August to facilitate the Junior Summer Camps (for children aged between 5 to 11) and then will wait until spring before opening the maze to the general public.
“The hedges need to fill out and grow some before it becomes a challenge,” explains Patrick. “We are also planning a specular surprise to coincide with the opening in Spring – details to follow.”
Rathwood is also planning on building a viewing platform for when the maze is mature and children and adults alike may get temporarily lost in the tracks. Different treasure hunts and fact finding games will be developed once the maze is open next year.
“The Gathering certainly inspired us to think creatively” said Patrick. “I am delighted and look forward to seeing it come to fruition in another twelve months and then for years to come.”
For more information visit www.rathwood.com.