The Herbal Commons, a symbolic ‘field hospital’ located next to the Dromiskin Credit Union (County Louth), is inspired by the People’s Apothecary in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The People’s Apothecary is an organic garden collectively cultivated as an environment for learning, discussion and social action.  It is a garden that benefits the health of the environment as well as the well being of the community. “The People’s Apothecary is a herb garden, a commons, a sculpture, a model for creating self-reliant communities, and a relationship with our selves, the earth and each other” (S. Zapf, The People’s Apothecary, Canada).

In Dromiskin, The Herbal Commons has a relationship with the neighbouring credit union, as its ethos relates to co-operation and a belief in the sharing of resources. One of the original aims of the credit union movement in Ireland was to promote better standards of health. A credit union is a collective resource; its belief is working together for the benefit of the entire community. A community garden is a reflection of these beliefs, an example of how many hands can achieve greater results when working towards a common aim.

The medicinal garden is an interactive garden, a place for the community to learn about traditional cures and the social history of Irish wild plants and herbs. The Dromiskin Herbal Commons is a collaboration between community members of all ages. The inter-generational element of this garden facilitates cooperative learning, the sharing of Dromiskin’s cultural history, and the creation of a new landmark that incorporates the skills and visions of children and young people.

One of the unique features of Dromiskin’s medicinal garden is its cultivation in relation to St. John’s Day. Historically this day, celebrated on one of the longest days of the year, promoted the well being of land, crops, animals, and people. The smoke from the St. John’s Day fires offered protection for health, growth, and the harvesting of potential abundance. Particular restorative herbs were thrown into these special fires to accelerate and strengthen intentions for good will amongst the entire community.

St. Peter’s National School in Dromiskin has a copy of the 1938 Irish Folklore Commission’s report pertaining to Dromiskin, which lists a number of unique traditional cures used by the local community. This report, documenting the folklore of Dromiskin, was collated by the principal of the primary school at that time.  It will be a reference for the medicinal garden, propagating the past into the growth of the present day community.

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