On a bright evening last Friday in the Castle Park, Kilkenny, friends and family of the late Paddy Friel gathered to remember her and plant a tree in her memory.
The sun beamed down on her daughter Chrissie and son Owen, her sisters and brother, nieces, nephews friends and colleagues, who travelled from all over for the event. It was a happy occasion as the younger members of the group put the final touches on the planting of giant redwood tree to commemorate the huge work Paddy did in Kilkenny since her arrival in the county in the early 1980s.
As an OPW Park’s Superintentant, Paddy undertook massive improvements on Kilkenny Castle on what was, before she arrived, a semi-derelict building. She also brought the gardens of Altamont in Carlow and Emo Court in Laois into the public domain, carrying out major restorations on each in the process. At the same time Paddy cared for Jerpoint Abbey, Dunmore Cave and Cahir Castle. She worked as hard an any Kilkenny person ever did to develop the county’s tourism business as well as helping to bring about the creation of the Gaelscoil and Colaiste Pobail in the city.
Mayor Sean O’Hargain, said that it only seemed fitting that Paddy’s achievements should be marked in the planting of a giant redwood in the Castle Park. He continued, linkening the Sequioadendron giganteum, to Paddy. They were both blow-ins, both able to deal with almost anything from fire and flood to drought, carrying on regardless. Anne Teehan, long time colleague of Paddy, told of how Paddy and Head Gardener, Pat Comerford had many times talked about planting one of these giants in the park to replace a specimen lost many years ago. The tree is an excellent addition to the wonderful park as well as a memorial to a wonderful adopted daughter of Kilkenny.