This Heritage Week (August 18-26) the Co Mayo town of Ballina will unveil its newly refurbished “secret garden” to the public and Sligo will be well represented at the event.
The garden represents just one phase of the ongoing development by Mayo Co Council of the Jackie Clarke Collection at the former Provincial Bank building on Pearse St in Ballina.
The collection was amassed by Ballina businessman and politician, the late Jackie Clarke. Its contents are largely document based and span 400 years of Irish history, offering unique and personal insights into some of the country's most significant periods and characters.
Its development as a new cultural attraction in the west of Ireland is supported by Failte Ireland and the National Spatial Strategy Gateways and Hubs ERDF grants (2002-2020).
The collection will open permanently to the public later this year in a listed building known as the Provincial Bank in Ballina. However work on the restoration of the adjoining walled Victorian garden has already been completed. To mark National Heritage Week, Mayo Co Council (which has stewardship of the collection, thanks to the generosity of Jackie Clarke’s widow, Mrs Ann Clarke) will host an open day at the garden on Sunday afternoon next, August 26 from 2-6pm.
Once a forbidden place to the public, meant solely for the enjoyment of generations of bank managers and their families, the garden is about to enter a new era. As part of the Jackie Clarke Collection facility it will become a stunning new urban space, open to all.
While Mayo may lay claim to this new national cultural attraction, Sligo hands played a major role in its development with the Corballa based Kilcross Construction company carrying out a significant element of the work in the garden. The company will continue to be involved in the project on a maintenance basis into the future.
And the links with Sligo do not stop there. Jackie Clarke’s family is believed to have originally come to Ballina from the Dromore West area of Co Sligo.
In addition, the Collection is already networking with similar attractions in the Yeats County, including Ceolaras Coleman in Gurteen, with a view to promoting a cultural trail for tourists in the region.
The Heritage Week open day at the Jackie Clarke garden is open to all and will feature live music and children’s entertainment.
For more information on the Jackie Clarke Collection contact (089) 4551896.