Inspired by Nature ……. News from the Jubilee Garden on the Cabra Campus.

Following an invitation to be involved in helping restore the Jubilee Garden beside Mary Bellew House on the Cabra Campus, a small group of volunteers got together in 2022 to take on this challenge. Garden gloves in hand, wellies bought or borrowed, spades to the ready, and varying degrees of gardening knowledge, we decided this was something we could do and would love to do. Our enthusiasm was perhaps prompted less by the prospect of being on our knees (literally) weeding and more by the new energy, vision and time that the life of retirement had afforded us as a group. This, combined with our love of nature and the outdoors, put an extra pep in our step!

And so we met in the Jubilee Garden, Tuesday upon Tuesday, for many months of the year. We chatted lots and worked in harmony with the seasons through 2022, 2023 and now again in 2024.

And my goodness how much we have benefited from it all: we were introduced to a cosmic spiral, a poustinia, a pond and raised beds – all in need of a little care and attention. We were encouraged most weeks by lovely birdsong, the sound of trees rustling in the breeze and of course lots of cups of tea and laughter, an integral part of the schedule. Over time we found ourselves become part of this lovely corner of the Cabra Campus and it too became part of our lives.

The first part of the project was the restoration of the cosmic spiral. It involved not just weeding, laying down new membrane (to tease the weeds and prompt them to move elsewhere!), the laying of a new pebble surface both within the spiral and along the pathways to and from it.

It also involved learning about the spiral, understanding its significance and the opportunity it gives us all to come and reflect on the story of the universe in the garden. We began to appreciate the wisdom of Sr Miriam Therese MacGillis who created the practice and ritual of the ‘Cosmic Spiral’ and how a cosmic walk could inspire wonder and joy in all who visited it. Our visit to An Tairseach in Wicklow enhanced this appreciation as we listened to Sr Colette Kane OP who gave us a presentation on the story of the Universe and the wonder of creation. Thereafter, as we wheeled wheelbarrows of pebbles from the circle core to the outreaches of the spiral, we began to think of how this lovely space and setting might become a place of prayer, an oasis of calm and reflection for others on the Cabra Campus and beyond.

To date we have had gatherings in the garden with the Sisters of Santa Sabina house and the community in Mary Bellew House and a celebration of the Season of Creation. We hope to have more group gatherings

 Restored Cosmic Spiral in the Jubilee garden

The spaces within the Jubilee Garden
Reflecting the Three pillars of Lauadto Si’: Contemplation, Reflection and Action

The Raised Beds

The Jubilee garden offers a practical response to Laudato Si’, providing a quiet place for contemplation and reflection, and the work on the renovated raised beds along the high garden wall provides plenty of opportunity for action, connecting the flourishing of the human spirit with the flourishing of the natural world.

These beds are planted with flowers for pollinators, various herbs and seasonal vegetables, including rhubarb, reminiscent of the kitchen gardens of old. The lower section includes a selection of fruit trees and a dedicated space for rewilding, using native Irish flower seeds.

The trees around the garden commemorate the Jubilees of many Sisters and provide a natural backdrop to cocoon the visitors we hope will visit during the Summer months.

The Poustinia

A special place for prayer and reflection within the Jubilee garden is the Poustinia. The general meaning and description of Poustinia is as follows: A small sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God. Some of the building materials came from surplus pews from the Convent Chapel. As the photos show, the Poustinia needed some care and attention and this was completed in 2023.

Before                                                                                                                                       After









The Pond

One of the lovely features in the Jubilee garden is the pond. Garden ponds play a vital role in promoting biodiversity and supporting ecosystems in urban and suburban areas. They provide an excellent source of food and water, as well as a home, for local wildlife.

In recent times, the pond had become overgrown with weeds and algae in the water. We decided the pond needed a good clearing out. We are now looking forward to new growth in the spring and we hope it will attract more wildlife.

Before                                                                                                                                                                           After









Volunteer Group of the Jubilee Garden