I’d jumped down the Rabbit Hole, journeyed the rugged terrain of Kenmare and, now back at the bed and breakfast, the next leg of my journey presented itself. While online, I came across a picture of a comical pig glowing in a bubble bath, described as an attraction in an artist’s garden miles away. Then, while down at dinner, a flyer for the attraction was left behind on the counter, and I began to feel a pull towards this place greater than any other I’d encountered, as if I was being beckoned. My gut had been telling me that something fantastical and enchanting was in store for me this trip; I just didn’t know that my dreams of finding Wonderland would be coming true so soon.
The Ewe Sculpture Garden in Glengarriff, West Cork, even if it were to be the only sight one saw on a trip to Ireland, is worth every penny spent in travel to get there. Artist Sheena Wood and writer Kurt Lyndorff have turned their home and the surrounding grounds, an enchanted moss-covered forest divided by a beautiful waterfall and stream, into a spectacle filled with awe-inducing scenes. I struggle to think of this place as “art”, as each piece seems to be alive within this world, with its own soul and purpose for being there.
The garden path starts off with a rather humorous and educational tone, the creators clearly concerned about the environment and looking to balance the comical creatures and exhibits with some thought and education on issues of our time.
But as the path winds on, the sights are magnificently eerie. Never in my life have I been as frightened, as awe-struck, as amused or as impacted by art as I was in this place. One is climbing the stone trail amused by a fish seen bicycling upstream when, before that humor wears off, the mind is trying to digest this:
A beautiful, bluest of blue, severed head of a giant. Because that’s something one sees while walking in the woods everyday.
The ability this artist has to create wonder… true fear… I actually screamed, (my own fault for not following directions, as the sign reads, “Homo Tyranicus: The most destructive animal that ever lived. Open with care… Please keep locked!), at the sight of what lies behind this door:
But there was a place in this garden where I felt even more fearful – Where my mind struggled desperately for an explanation of what I was feeling and seeing. A place where magic lingered in the air, where I stood in a stupor for over ten minutes.
Stacey came to the beast first, and her gasp told me there was truly something to behold. She couldn’t stay put, explaining that she felt utterly creeped out and bothered by the whole scene. She moved on, telling me I could stay as long as I wanted, but she wouldn’t be returning.
On a rock above me on the path hung a small plaque. “‘Twas more like a Celtic cheetah,” it read, “for it came in the night and stole away our soul.”
I climbed further so I could see what was beyond. And I couldn’t stop gasping with wonder. Each time I tried to walk away I was just pulled right back. No photo could ever do justice to this scene: the enormous, dark-eyed, beautiful, terrifying, seemingly alive and in-motion cheetah of the woods. I do believe I left with my soul that day, despite the warning, but I can absolutely see how people fear this “beast”. It was incredible and, perhaps, the most fantastical thing I’ve seen. And I will return merely to visit it.
I have hundreds of photos and experiences I could detail from my time in The Ewe Garden. But the true takeaway, the true gift that I will forever thank Sheena and Kurt for, is the knowledge that I can still be surprised and inspired. It is so refreshing, healing even, to know that after all my life experiences, all the travel, after everything I’ve seen, I can still stand awestruck by something completely new and inventive. Visit the Ewe Garden. You will not regret it.