Re: Re: Architectural heritage of Limerick

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Roche’s Hanging Gardens

The recent published Irish Historic Towns Atlas on Limerick reveals how large these gardens once were. 😎 There are only two arches of this single-story store remaining. It’s been redeveloped with the old Post Office sorting buildings and it seems a little garden would reappear on it. Alas the project has stalled. See link.

Building of Limerick ~Judith Hill

City park and gardens

. . . . . . . That there was a lack of public gardens was not quite true, or was only recently true. Roche’s Hanging Gardens and Billy Carr’s garden were both celebrated and Roche’s garden at least seems to have been used by inhabitants and visitors.

It is illustrated in Fitzgerald and M’Gregor’s book on the city showing the strolling citizens and reported by O’Dowd as ‘a source of interest to strangers visiting the city’. The hanging gardens were unique, the product of a personal vision, or obsession. William Roche, the banker, was responsible.

He built a single-storey store or bonding house facing Henry Street (behind his bank on Georges Street) which he rented to the government and on the roof he constructed the gardens in a series of terraces. Exotic fruits and vegetables were grown under glass sustained by lead lined irrigation channels which carried excess water to the city sewers.

Only the brick and stone arches of the bonding stores, now incorporated into the post office buildings, remain today.

Limerick Journal ~ Jim Kemmy

See pdf.

In 1808 William Roche built large stores which covered more than an acre of land from the rear of the bank to Henry
Street. On the roof of these stores he constructed his own private gardens.

The plan involved the building of the stores under a Series of arches ranging from 25 to 40 feet high. On top of these arches elevated terraced or “hanging” gardens were created and the whole structure was crowned with classical statues.

These works cost f 15,000 to complete but Roche’s speculation was not the folly some people believed it to be. The
government rented the stores at a “fine” of f 10,000 and a rent of £300 a year.

The top terraces contained hot houses, conservatories, glass houses, and flues to heat them. Here was grown grapes,
pineapples, peaches, and oranges. The highest point was seventy feet above street level and commanded an impressive view of the Shannon.

On the middle tier were grown vegetables and hardy fruit trees; on the bottom, flowers. A section of about eighty feet
square was devoted to melons and cucumbers. Flights of steps led from one elevation to another.

The depth of earth on the gardens averaged about five feet, and the stores underneath were protected from dampness by flags cemented together and by an ingenious network of lead channels, which carried excess moisture through perpendicular pipes concealed in the arches and from the city by horizontal outlets to the main sewers under the street.

By the blocking of upright tubes !in dry weather, water was retained and conveyed into the various channels under the
garden surface. Manure was brought up from the ground by mechanical means. It was little wonder that the exotic gardens, with these elaborate heating and watering arrangements, were, to quote James Dowd, “long a source of interest to strangers visiting the city”.

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