For years the only Japanese gardens in Ireland that I’ve been familiar with were those in The National Stud in Kildare. I took my two girls out to them a few times when I was living near Prosperous, and I have lots of photos of us standing on the pretty little red “Bridge of Life” posing in the warm summer sun.
Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens, Tramore
And then, a few weeks ago, I heard about the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens in Tramore. A post on Facebook mentioned an “Enchanted Garden” and “Winter Wonderland” and showed beautiful images of the gardens lit up with an abundance of fairy lights. It sounded magical!!
It also sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to pull out the camera and try to figure out how to work it again, and to work out how to take photos of fairy lights in the dark. I’ve taken the camera out an odd time over the last couple of years and each time I’ve been so disappointed in how easily I’ve forgotten everything. Now that I’ve started blogging again, I need to get to grips with taking photos and editing them.
So, earlier on this evening, I drove out to Tramore with my daughters (who are also fascinated by lights and sparkles). We found the gardens easily enough, thanks to Google maps. Pond road in Tramore was lined with fairy lights, and there was a big sign outside the gardens. Thanks to the two ladies for posing under the sign for me (although I may have neglected to mention to them that they were about to feature in my blog).
Sitting here now, looking through the images on my flash disk, I realise that I need a lot more practise taking photos. Daughter No. 1 has already said she’ll return to the gardens with me and we’ll take both our cameras along. I didn’t have a tripod with me and I definitely should have had one. A slow shutter speed and a shaky hand is a recipe for very blurry photos of absolutely nothing at all.
The gardens are set on a hill overlooking Tramore. As we strolled tonight along paths that meandered through rocks and plants and lined with fairy lights, we could see the twinkling lights of the town. The brightly coloured lights and lanterns along the route really were dazzling, and the main attraction seemed to be the fairy globe in the centre of the garden. I’m only sorry that my photos turned out so badly, but I hope they’ll serve as a little taster of what can be seen there in the run up to Christmas and afterwards (or as a challenge to better photographers to to visit and capture the beauty of the gardens).
I think the photo below might have been one of my better photos this evening.
It was a cold evening and the hot chocolate with marshmallows went down a treat at the end. There’s a little seating area with garden furniture and candles on tables that was sheltered from the elements, and it was lovely to sit there for a while and warm our hands on the cups of piping hot chocolate. Mince pies and chocolate snacks were also available at the little shop, as well as teas and coffee.
Staff at the gardens were friendly and helpful and there were lots of them around this evening, probably due to the groups of children that were coming in to see the gardens. Two groups were arriving just as we were leaving.
When I mentioned to one of the staff that I’d never heard of the gardens before, he said that they had really only taken off in the last three years. If you’re thinking of visiting I’d definitely recommend them. Do try to visit while the Winter Wonderland is on as the display of lights is really worthwhile.