An Gairdín Beo is a two-acre community garden in the centre of Carlow Town.

In the autumn of 2014 the Sisters of Mercy from St Leo's Convent contacted several groups and individuals in county Carlow, inviting them to a meeting to discuss the possibility of a community garden being created in land adjacent to the convent.

There was huge interest in the overgrown two acre site and from that initial get together on a warm bright evening, three sub committees of volunteers were formed to move the idea into action.

In 2015 a Board of Directors was created and An Gairdín Beo applied to be a Company Limited by Guarantee with Charitable Status, with a 20 year lease being agreed with the Sisters. 

CLICK HERE to view our brochure (PDF).

Our Structure


Inclusiveness, Active Participation & Collaborative Leadership

The Board of Directors hold the governance responsibilities of the organisation and are responsible for protecting the ethos of the garden, for its company and legal requirements and for its financial sustainability.

The Garden Committee meet on a monthly basis to discuss, plan and organise the ongoing development activities of the garden. This is a collaborative group who bring a range of expertise and interests. It has five sub-groups: Finance and funding, Development, Growing, TLC (Therapeutic Garden) and Governance. This structure allows the work to progress in a co-ordinated but flexible way and can draw on external expertise when required.

The Volunteers are the heart of the garden activity. They include regulars such as Tús and CE Workers (3) and volunteers who are recruited through the Carlow Volunteer Centre.

Visitors come to the garden for a wide variety of reasons:
  • To enjoy the nature and the green space
  • To grow food and other plants
  • To take part in organised events or activities
  • To reacquaint themselves with school-day spaces and places
  • To meet and chat
  • To contribute ideas
  • To book our newly refurbished Community Building


There is a rich history surrounding the community garden and lots of visitors are familiar with the site. Many years ago the two buildings were used by previous St Leo's College staff and pupils, known as 'Bethlehem' and the 'gym'.

The tarmac is still down from old basketball and tennis courts, once used by the all the girls from the school during their PE lessons. The mediation area of the garden was known as St Joseph's Walk and used by the Sisters; it's still possible to glimpse some of the planting from this time.