Next time you enjoy a salad at Dunmore, look closely for the ultraviolet flowers of the cornflower. This radiant beauty is not just a decorative flower; it is for bees a UV beacon, for this is how these princes of the environment navigate. Where there are bees, there is a thriving environment. On a wild and misty Atlantean evening, West Cork People takes a trip out to the headland to speak with two of the staff at Dunmore House Hotel – Adrian Grace and Louise Deasy. Louise is first; sharing with us her knowledge about bees and flowers and much more.
A native of Clonakilty, Louise joined Dunmore as their horticulturalist in 2018. Her love of the environment and her curiosity about how it all comes together led her to study Permaculture in Kinsale. There, on an open and innovative course, she learned how to create herb and vegetable gardens, how to landscape environmentally and how to use green building techniques. It is this foundation that she uses at Dunmore to weave healthy and sustainable practices into the ways we eat and the ways in which we enjoy nature.
“My work is about bringing what we grow to the table to be eaten or for decoration. We grow our own organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Some flowers are edible, some are decorative, and some are both. My work is not just about growing plants or vegetables, but also about creating a thriving environment for guests to enjoy. Some of my best co-workers are our bees and native insects and flies.”
Her curiosity has taken her to India to volunteer with Vandana Shiva, a world-renowned Indian scholar, environmental activist, and food sovereignty advocate. Their emphasis on traditional practices from Vedic ecology is possibly not far from how Ireland once considered nature. Louise has also worked to at the magnificent walled garden at Kylemore Abbey. “My curiosity and desire to learn takes me to many talks and seminars.”
What projects are ongoing now? “We are working on our Cliff Garden and seeing how best to use grasses and hedging, how we can better understand and use the seaweeds, and create a place of abundance and experience. We are also creating living sculptures with Willow.”
Her cheeks are red from the elements even on this grey day. “There is much to do. We work small-scale to create future biodiversity. There are more fruits to be grown, more wildflowers to cultivate. There is so much we can do here in West Cork.”
From a small farm outside Drinagh, Adrian Best is alive with language and drama.
“I studied Hotel Management in Waterford at WIT. I do a bit of everything from waiting on guests to helping with the preparations for weddings. I’ve been here since 2014. I’m from a small farm and I’m the eldest of six. A big family, you might say.”
Why do people come to Dunmore? “For the scenery, the service, and the food. I like the change that is always here. Talking to different people. Pointing them up the road to Duneen Beach or into Clonakilty to the Distillery. We get guests from everywhere in Ireland. A lot from the UK. We’ll have to entice them a little more with Brexit. I like to see the guests return and have the chats with them. They all like to talk and see what’s around us. On fine days, I’d tell them to go to the Mizen or if it’s not so fine, maybe send them into Michael Collins House for some history. I’d have liked that in school. If I hadn’t taken to hotels, I might have become a history or geography teacher.”
He has been a finalist in the national AIB Macra Na Feirme new member category and has represented West Cork in the Loy Digging competition at the National Ploughing Championships.
“My father, Jim, has won competitions at Intermediate level there and won again at the recent 5 Nations Ploughing Championships.”
An actor with the Kilmeen Drama group, he is fresh this year from acting in The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh. Back in 2017, he won the Best Supporting Actor award at the All-Ireland Amateur One Act Drama.
“I love the acting. It’s a great experience. I’ll have to find the time to do more. I work here and I help out on the farm at home so maybe after Christmas when it’s quieter.”
He has that kind of presence and language; made for stage, a man of drama and intrigue. There’ll be more acting awards if he gets the time. Meanwhile, the guests will enjoy his personality even more.
We talk a lot in West Cork about the food that is produced but more importantly, it is the people who come out of this place of land and sea. Many travel away to enhance where they go with creativity, skill and their ease with people. Dunmore House Hotel is providing a place for many to work and stay where their value is appreciated and encouraged.
Carol Barrett is busy with preparations for weddings. “Our staff are invaluable to what we do,” she says. “Between them all, they have over 500 years’ experience.”
That’s worth experiencing. Great West Cork people like Louise and Adrian creating experiences for people from everywhere to enjoy, remember and spread word of it far and wide.
Advert photography by