These gardens reflect the life and extensive wanderings of a Greek-born boy, with an Irish father, who grew up in Ireland, and whose life journey embraced several parts of the world. They pay homage to Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, and, most especially, to the fame he attained in Japan through his incomparable literary descriptions of the people, customs and culture of that country.
The Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens have a wonderful and unique story to tell. In their style and planting they contain elements of the gardening traditions of the countries and cultures traversed by Hearn during his varied life. The journey begins in a Victorian Garden dedicated to the memory of Hearn’s happy childhood summers in Tramore. There is an American Garden, a Greek Garden and a traditional Japanese Tea garden, in addition to a stream garden, ponds, a waterfall and an extensive woodland area. The main elements of design, in particular the use of rocks and water and the plant selection, are influenced by the tradition of a Japanese strolling garden.
This is a young garden set into an older 19th century resort town landscape. Created with immense care, it is a magical and imaginative place, defined by a sense of peace and tranquility.
The next phase of work will include the construction of an ornamental Azumaya. As the plants in those areas mature, they will be pruned according to Japanese tradition and the garden will become a teaching garden for the nearby Kildalton Horticultural College.
The project promoter is the well established voluntary organisation, Tramore Development Trust, working in collaboration with Waterford City and County Council. The garden concept created by Agnes Aylward, was inspired by a visit to Tramore in 2012, by Professor Koizumi Bon, great grandson of Lafcadio Hearn. The garden was designed and created by Martin Curran Design. The soribashi bridge and Japanese entrance gates were designed by architect Mike Roberts. The landscaping work was undertaken by the Tramore Community Employment Scheme.
Hearn is best remembered today in Japan by his adopted name, Koizumi Yakumo. Generations of Japanese children have been taught English through the medium of his translations of many key works of Japanese folklore and legend.
A fascinating aspect of these gardens is that they bring to life in a very vivid way, and to the attention of a new generation, the life and work of a writer who passed away more than 100 years ago. These are gardens of international importance that will appeal not only to lovers of natural beauty but also to literary fans of Hearn worldwide.
The Embassy of Japan is pleased to announce that Professor Bon Koizumi, great-grandson of Lafcadio Hearn, has kindly contributed an article entitled “The resonance between the Japanese and Irish views of nature – on the opening of the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Gardens”, which is now available to read in both Japanese and English on the Embassy’s renewed website