Dangan House Garden Centre is 35 years old this year. This is the story of how a humble market stall in the Saturday market grew into the successful business it is today.
When Mrs Cunningham found a sixpenny piece while walking in the old garden of Dangan House in 1962, she felt it was a sign that maybe one of her children would earn a living within its walls. Her sons Paddy and Peter were drawn to market gardening from the age of 11 or 12 when they started to sell daffodils in the Saturday morning market and when they received scholarships to study horticulture they were determined to make the most of the opportunity. Determination was needed as the brothers cycled the 140 mile journey to Piltown College Co. Kilkenny that first September, and home again that Christmas.
Upon graduation in 1977 they borrowed 100 pound to buy seeds and a small polythene growing tunnel, and began to grow fruit and vegetables for local restaurants and the Saturday market. When the renowned gardener Lorna McMahon suggested they stock some trees for the upcoming National Tree Week, they took her advice, and the nursery began to take shape.
Growth was slow initially but gradually a regular clientele grew. As people’s tastes became more sophisticated the range of trees, shrubs and bedding increased until it outgrew the market stall outside St Nicholas’ Church.
The Saturday morning customers began to come to the nursery in the grounds of the old house, which was built by one-time town clerk John Reddington in 1841. Bigger and better tunnels were added and in time a car park.
In 1987 Paddy and Peter bought the large glasshouse from Barna Gardens. Over a six month period they carefully dismantled it, transported and reassembled it in Dangan. In 1997 the old coach house was renovated and given a new lease of life housing the garden shop.
Nowadays Paddy and Peter have a lot more help around the place with nine full-time and up to five part-time workers employed, depending on the season. Working days of 12 to 14 hours are now the exception rather than the rule, as they once were.