The Secret Garden of Salthill
Poster: Dan Murphy
When you step through the slightly concealed gate from the Galway Bay Hotel into the Circle of Life Garden, you almost feel like you’ve emerged into a scene from the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel, ‘The Secret Garden’. Its high stone walls, beautiful shrubbery and meandering pathways transport you into an oasis of peace and tranquility.
The Circle of Life, National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden is located next to Galway Bay Hotel on the Salthill Promenade and was officially opened by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. It was created by Galway based charity, Strange Boat Donor Foundation and was inspired by the life and memory of a young Co. Galway man, Éamonn Goggin whose organs were donated following a road crash in 2006.
Sitting on one of the garden benches, one’s mind can wander and whilst doing so the low drone of passing traffic and the evening chorus of bird song fade into oblivion. The noise of crashing waves against the promenade fades into therapeutic background sounds akin to that heard in a relaxing spa. The mix of emotion in your mind becomes powerful; the sadness of the loss, the pride of the generosity of the donors along with the true joy of the organ recipients and their families. It becomes all so meaningful, touching and serene.
Walking through the garden between the newly planted and more mature trees, passing the commemorative stones and reading the inscriptions, one ends up on a little hill looking out on to the famous Galway Bay – a sight to behold indeed. Time tends to stand still in this garden; an hour feels like minutes whilst trying to count the amount of gold fish in the pond, or simply looking for your home county on its engraved stone. If you take a moment to take in your surroundings you will notice other patrons, young and old, sitting in silence, reflecting, looking, thinking and reminiscing, some shedding a tear, or in my situation giving thanks for all that is good in life.
I can understand why many of the brides and grooms who hold their wedding receptions with us choose the Circle of Life Garden to take their wedding photos in. I find peace and joy in the garden and I’m sure when they look back at their wedding photos they find this too.
Dan Murphy is the Director/General Manager in Galway Bay Hotel.