Recently St Agnes’ convent in Crumlin, Dublin closed its doors for the last time having been home to many Sisters of Charity who served the local community for 74 years. However, last spring Sr Ellen Galvin recalled the beauty of the garden and its inhabitants:
If by chance a stranger happened to stray on St. Agnes’s garden and surroundings he could be forgiven for believing he had arrived in paradise. Such is the beauty of the flora that greets one on entering. The first to greet the visitor is the beautiful voluptuous pink and white cherry blossoms on the tall trees that bear them, as they sway in the gentle breeze. On the other hand when the wind is high, the blown off petals carpet the ground majestically, leaving one cosseted above and below in beauty.
Next to catch the eye is the circle of colour opposite the hall door – a ring of mauve and purple ambrosia borders in inner content here. The daffodils that once delighted our vision until recently have gone underground to their comfort zone of mother earth for another year. The white and purple-centred pansies appear to be perpetually happy. Making contact with these pretty plants is sure to provoke a smile. This is no doubt a source of relaxation and happiness, blessing the inhabitants of St. Agnes’s. Vying for space with the pansies are the beautiful sun-yellow polyanthus. These must not be overlooked as they are sunshine under a grey sky. And the tulips, well they demand their space, standing erect with their red heads aflame. The queen of all is the lavender! Here the hum of the bees is heard as they collect the nectar to produce delicious honey to satiate our palates. They also pollinate the flowers and plants, keeping a supply going from year to year. What a treasure these little creatures are!
Also many and varied are the insects that germinate in this flowerbed providing sustenance for the many little sweet-singing birds as they fly in mid-air. Ours is not just a dawn chorus but a day-long chorus of merriment. The magpies also entertain us frequently to drama with the wild cats. Magpies are beautiful, intelligent creatures, and they are not just black and white. No, beneath their wings and in their tails there are shades of shining green and deep blue. From the antics of the cats it is obvious that they would love a tasty magpie for breakfast or lunch, or both if they were lucky! The magpies surround the cat, both teasing each other (whatever the magpies motive is, we know what the cat’s is!). While the magpies in front of the cat engage him, the ones behind pick his tail. More often than not the magpies win out with their ability to fly, leaving the poor cat hungry! A flock of seagulls visit every noon. They perch on the roof top, squawking madly as they await the arrival of the leftovers from the kitchen. More drama takes place as the seagulls and magpies compete for the food. This is a good picture of the survival of the fittest! The pigeons seem to be an independent lot. Their coats are grey in colour. They are big and overfed creatures. These do not partake of the leftover food. While gracing us with their presence they just pick in the lawn. Mr. Fox, his mates and family only visit by night. So the foxes are not seen too often. When occasionally they come within view, they are stunningly beautiful – with brown/red furry coats and exquisite bushy tails. However, now that the young have come on the scene, Mum Fox can be seen boldly and proudly marching her cubs around in broad daylight!
To the flora again, this year at the far end of the garden a delightful bed of forget-me-nots, sprang up beneath a wall dressed in dark green ivy. One cannot but gaze on the magnificent, appealing faces of these most attractive little plants. There is no denying that the beauty of the forget-me-nots is captivating, all courtesy of the great Creator. Now we await the blooming of the roses. Their time has not arrived yet. Their blooming is definitely a spectacular scene to look forward to. This is St. Agnes’s dressed for the Spring! The remaining three seasons are just as spectacular in each of their seasonable dresses.
Yes, Heaven is within and all around us.
Ellen Galvin RSC