The Gardens: A Potted History
We don't know when exactly the present gardens at Kinoith were created but we do know that the Strangmans, a Quaker family, moved to Shanagarry from Waterford in 1830. We assume that the gardens were started soon after their arrival, certainly some of the trees around the perimeter date back to the early 1800's. From folk memory we understand that the gardens were impeccably maintained for generations by two full time gardeners and several helpers, but they gradually deteriorated after the death of Lydia Strangman in 1952. When Darina Allen came to Kinoith in 1970 as a young Bride, the gardens had become a wilderness.
Restoration of the garden at Kinoith began in earnest in 1983, just after the Ballymaloe Cookery School was established. Prior to that Darina had made a few, in her words, "feeble attempts", to penetrate the wilderness, but was overwhelmed by what appeared to be the enormity of the task at that time. Gradually, what began as a need to tidy up turned into a passion as they began to uncover and identify old plants and trees that had survived the long years of neglect. One of the loveliest surprises was the discovery of a little pond in the top part of the garden beside the old Summer House. When this was eventually cleared of brambles, Darina Allen discovered a charming mosaic floor made from fragments of broken china and dated 1912 which had been laid by Lydia Strangman and her mother Louisa. It had been covered by leaf mould and garden debris for almost 90 years. Lydia, a gifted watercolorist, found her garden a source of inspiration. Many of her paintings survive and have been a valuable aid in the restoration process.