Glenbower Wild Garlic Pesto

Last Monday, 16th April, I spent a wonderful morning with Jessica Bonenfant Coogan and Lou Stepney-Power.

I had met Lou and her boys, Tom and Sam during one of our Creative Killeagh Sensory Trails. I noticed Sam’s interest in these dark green plants, which were spread thickly across the woodland floor. Sam introduced me to Wild Garlic and he encouraged me to taste it.

What a wonder he shared with me. Thank you Sam.

I was delighted in my learning and intrigued to hear about his mum’s making of pesto from these Wild Garlic leaves.

Following the Sensory Trail, I made contact with Lou and asked if she would share her experience and knowledge of this plant with me. She generously responded.

We walked out into Glenbower Woods together.

We smelt, tasted, walked, shared, searched for and chose.

Lou shared stories and her knowledge of other plants and trees with me.

We took only as much as we needed.

We stepped carefully, trying to avoid standing on plants.

On returning to Lou’s home, we made Glenbower Wild Garlic Pesto. The transformation in colour as we whizzed up the ingredients absolutely delighted my senses.

We tasted our produce and reflected on the time we had spent together. I felt much energy and excitement in learning about other foods and drinks that could be made with ingredients from our local environment. Elderflower and elderberry cordial, jams from the Autumnal berries, gorse added to ice cream or as a yellow dying agent.

Thank you Lou, Tom, Sam and Jessica.



Sara French: First Days


A long drive to a huge grey house, so big it’s as if it’s leaning over the road, and folding into the clouds above. Jessica opens the door to greet me and Hughie welcomes me in. Dogs, a cat, a goat; I’m here. I move my sculptures into the studio and lay my belongings out on the bed in my room.

My first task is to prepare for fermentation. I combine grated ginger, equal parts sugar, and cover with non-chlorinated water to begin the bug. This lactic acid culture will be added to a ginger tea creating a lactobacillus concoction. Once that’s done I tear up some newspaper to soak in boiling water, come Friday it will be pulp.


At dusk I take a walk behind The Old Thatch. There I witness a barrage of odds with soon to be ends. I continue on into Glenbower Wood where the dark fools my eye. Shadows behind a hazy mist reveal to me the outline of a woman towering over my brows. I snap a few pics to immortalise her evermore.


To the cemetery, the GAA field, only so far and I’m in Clashdermot. I loop back around and see two daffodils waver, a tea bag hanging from a branch and an old stone telling me where I am, “22 Miles to Cork, 7 Miles to Youghal”. I admire this seemingly historic placard, a tombstone to a trail, a monument on the way, as I can barely fathom the years of this town. A glance into the cemetery beguiles me with a passing remark, “thy will be done”, a slogan that returns me to my studio for some sketching and planning.


The bitters workshop begins at 3pm and to prepare I’m going over my research. I can’t wait to inform participants that you can order shots of Angostura on an island between the border of Canada and the US. Quite the location for a bitter bomb.

After the workshop we have about a dozen bottles with stunning bouquets of lavender, calendula, hibiscus, cardamon, bay leaves; the spice pantry infused.


I take it easy after one too many cocktails yesterday. A visitor comes into town and we take a drive to Ardmore, Mahon Falls and breakfast in Youghal. Many sites worth seeing. The falls are particularly beautiful, skinny streams falling from vast cliffs and rock formations to hike and reveal the river in its entirety.


Today I met Léann Herlihy in Dungarven. Having lived in Dublin for 2 years I became aware of her practice and reached out to her having missed introducing myself at an event we both attended. Her presence lingers at Greywood. She was on residence here at Greywood earlier this year. After a coffee, a walk through the cemetery and bizarre story about her trip to Spike Island I caught the bus and headed back to Killeagh.


Pop-up Deliciousness

We’re all still in awe of chef Mike Clery’s cooking skills today, as we snack on leftover homemade biscotti. The Creative Killeagh Pop-Up Restaurant was a smashing success.


As guests arrived they were greeted with a glass of champagne, courtesy of The Old Thatch. Anna O’Sullivan played the piano in the library, and guests mingled for the first while. Also on offer was a special cocktail, Rhubarb and Revenge, made with generously donated bottles of Bertha’s Revenge gin with homemade rhubarb simple syrup, lime, and tonic.

We sat down to five incredible courses: Gin cured trout with wasabi yougurt, then feta, spinach and cashew parcels and leaves from Greenfield Farm in Knockraha, followed by mackerel with chermoula and hazlenut dukkah. Then onto the main course of slow roasted lamb shoulder with purple potatoes Joe’s Farm Crisps, pomegranate tabouleh, broccolini with snap peas, and a warm mint potato salad.

Dessert was a parfait with homemade stracciatella ice cream with crumbled merengue, and red fruits in elderberry balsamic. Finally, coffee and tea with the aforementioned homemade biscotti. Magnifique!


The Main Course was complemented by a set from local musician Eoghan Keniry, and Jude Duffy played during dessert. We even had some impromptu spoon playing.

We must thank the following for donating raffle prizes, food, drink, or loaning us supplies:

Some of the Raffle winners:

Guests enjoying themselves.

A bit from behind the scenes:

A big thank to our volunteers, especially Mary Collins for helping with the set up over two days. Also, artists Carol Anne Connolly and Sara French for pitching in, Kara Sweeney for taking the photos, Hughie Coogan for manning the bar, Lou Stepney Power for helping set up, and Colm Quinn and Dierdre Duffy for attacking the dirty dishes.

Of course, the biggest thanks of all goes to Mike Clery for masterminding and executing this incredible menu!

Jessica Bonenfant Coogan, CK Project Manager


Irish performance artist Léann Herlihy was invited to partake in an artist-in-the-community residency in October 2017 as part of the Creative Killeagh Project

In the W O O D S H O P workshop, Léann invited locals to use their creativity to reimagine the idea of a rocking chair. Participants gained hands on experience in constructing rocking-furniture from repurposed materials.

Léann also led a talk, accompanied by Patsy Irwin, a Killeagh native, who worked at the Greywood Arts building when it was J.H. HOGAN & SONS. He shared his memories of the sawmill’s operations, and its cast of characters. Léann discussed how unusual it was for a business to be left to the family’s daughter, Priscilla, sharing Ireland’s historical context during the first half of the 20th century.

An excerpt from Patsy’s talk can be heard along with some scenes from Léann’s workshop, where locals created their very own rocking chairs. The chairs were on display on Halloween, as the Creative Killeagh project kicked off with a gripping performance by Léann.

Video Recording & Edit: Kara Sweeney – Twenty4Films
Sound Recording: Éanna Dowling