The “Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Gardens” in Tramore, Waterford will be opened to the public at an opening ceremony with the presence of Mr Chihiro Atsumi, Ambassador of Japan, and Mr Bon Koizumi, great-grandson of Lafcadio Hearn, at 14.30 on Friday, 26 June 2015. Celebrating the opening, Ms Ryoko AOKI, renowned Noh performer from Japan, is to visit the Garter Lane Arts Centre in Waterford as a Japan Cultural Envoy to hold a free performance of her classic and contemporary Noh theatre at 20.00 on Saturday, 27 June 2015, Lafcadio Hearn’s birthday.
On 6 March 2014, the Japan World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund (JEC Fund) pledged to provide financial assistance up to 6,000,000Yen (around 44,524Euros) to Waterford City and County Council (WCC) for the “Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Gardens” project. The grant was the largest of 48 international grants awarded by the JEC Fund that year.
The aim of the project is to transform the 9,400 square metre western style garden of Tramore House into a Japanese garden to honour Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), also known by his Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo, who spent his boyhood summers in Tramore before becoming a writer and living in Japan until he died. Waterford City and County Council started construction work at a sod turning ceremony on 27 June 2014 and work has continued on it up to now.
Mr Chihiro Atsumi said, “The completion of this project deepens Japan-Ireland cultural relations, following up the reciprocal visits of the Japanese Prime Minister Mr Shinzo Abe and the Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny TD in 2013,” and continued, “I hope that not only people in the Tramore area but throughout Ireland will have a better understanding of Japanese culture through a renewed interest in Koizumi Yakumo.”
Ms Anne Barrington, Ambassador of Ireland to Japan, also expressed her happiness at the news, saying, “Congratulations to the drivers and supporters of this wonderful project. Lafcadio Hearn is the best known and loved Irish person in Japan. It is high time to commemorate permanently Hearn's legacy in Ireland. This great garden will, I know, lead to increased intercultural exchanges between Japan and Ireland”.
The gardens have a number of separate areas which tell in sequence the story of Lafcadio Hearn from his boyhood in Tramore to his life and death in Japan. They also reflect, through planting and artefacts, stories from Japanese folklore translated by him. They will include several Japanese structures such as bridges, porticos and azumayas (gazebos), which will be of interest to Japanese, American and other international visitors. They are a significant addition to the gardens of Waterford and southeast Ireland. They will function as an educational garden of Teagasc, Kildalton College, and the Waterford Institute of Technology.
The Mayor of the Waterford Metropolitan area, Cllr Lola O’Sullivan, expressed her gratitude to the JEC Fund, and to the Embassy of Japan, for supporting this project, which, she said was ‘unique in Ireland’. She added “These gardens are very special to Tramore in general and me in particular. I can say, as a native and resident of Tramore, that I played as a child in these gardens as did Lafcadio in his day. The gardens are a magnificent and welcome addition to the sunny south east. I am glad and proud that my native town is playing a role in building international linkages with Japan”.
June 15, 2015