For the last two years I have been engaged in Bonsai, I have wondered why there is such a lack of Interest in relation to Bonsai on the Emerald Isle. I was confused when i discovered the amount of clubs in our neighboring United Kingdom and yet we had not a single club in The Republic of Ireland.
You see when I got bitten by the bug, i looked for anything in relation at all to bonsai here in Ireland. I was expecting shops, nurseries, clubs and societies. But with all my enthusiasm I was left as a spectator to nurseries, workshops, club meets and more just across the narrow Irish Sea. All I could find was the cheap mass produced stuff in Tesco and a few local garden centers. So why the big difference?
Has it something to do with demographics? The fact the population is much greater? No I cant imagine that being the reason there is no club in the South of Ireland. Tenerife has quite a large bonsai community and has less than 1 million inhabitants. So it must have nothing to do with Population. Are we Irish just cautious of anything that originates from outside the Island? Quite possible, but why since the spread of the art form from east to west the past century has bonsai been so poorly received in this country? I thought Mr Miyagi would have been a good ambasador. But even Mr Miyagi himself couldn’t spread bonsai like it is in Great Britain. That’s not to say there is no love of bonsai in Ireland, quite the contrary.
When i did a bit of research, I discovered there was a Bonsai Shop in PowersCourt Shopping Center, Dublin. Worth a visit as there is no other shop in the country dedicated solely to Bonsai. On more investigation I discovered there was an Irish web page named bonsai.ie. Bonsai.ie is mainly dedicated to Japanese Culture, but had quite a good few articles and contacts regarding Bonsai in Ireland. The man behind Bonsai.ie Paul Masterson put me in contact with many people around the country who were interested in bonsai. And he continues to be a great ambassador for spreading the art of bonsai around the country. But what I really wanted I suppose was a club, shop or nursery in Cork or somewhere close. I know you might say I’m asking a lot. But then again am I really asking to much?
When I discovered Ian’s Bonsai Blog I found that there was a club in the North of Ireland in Belfast. The Northern Ireland Bonsai Society, aka NIBS. Its only then I realised Ian was quite famous 😉
I then realised there was a bonsai Scene in Ireland. It might be 400 km away but there was a place that had regular club meets, workshops and enthusiasts. I couldn’t believe it. Again there was a club but quite a journey to make the meets. I watched the videos that Ian uploaded to youtube of workshops and Bonsai schools with Peter Snart from Willowbog Bonsai. I thought that NIBS was brilliant and wished we had something like this down south. Here is quite an interesting video on the history of The Northern Ireland Bonsai Society.
I remember being in Venice on my Honeymoon a year and a half ago sitting inside a internet cafe, checking my emails to see had any more people contacted me in relation to starting up a bonsai club. Myself and Piotr met this summer discussing plans to get something off the ground. We both started blogs, to further the attention bonsai may receive in Ireland. And to great extent it helped to gain momentum in laying a foundation. The blog helped me not only to get in contact with other bonsai enthusiasts but also to keep my motivation to gain knowledge and constantly learn.
A couple of months ago I posted a link from Bonsai Empire, showing a map of Bonsai Interest worldwide. And to no surprise The Republic of Ireland showed to have no interest on the map. Here it is below.
But only recently I have looked back at the website,and there has been an updated version of the map. And now Ireland is in the shaded. I thought this Indicated that Bonsai Interest had risen in our country. But it turns out its by continent. Still though its good to see us in the shaded area 🙂 oh what pleases me.
Well even though it might just be by continent I believe we deserve some shade in the next update. Partially due to the fact e we have started to get the ball rolling in the south. With the help of Ian from the Northern Ireland Bonsai Society, Paul Masterson from Bonsai.ie, and myself and Piotr down in Cork. In September the Munster Bonsai Club was initiated
We have people travelling from all over Munster to the club meetings. All the contacts that have been floating around the past few years have finally come together to create something. Something which hopefully in 20 years can have the experience of the NIBS. Something that will be a foundation to build on for the rest of the country.
Only last Month the Bonsai Ireland Hub was set up by Paul Masterson. It is a base for the whole country to discuss everything bonsai.
From the four corners of Ireland there are enthusiasts, waiting for a club to begin in their own region. There has been people coming out of the woodwork the past few months that have been involved with Bonsai for 20 years. Like Mark in Cork, who was part of the original Cork Bonsai Club, which we didn’t even know existed. Here i have been searching for people the past two years and this gentleman only live ten minutes from my house and has a vast collection of bonsai. In two weeks we have our First workshop thanks to Ian and Philip from NIBS. In the space of a few months we have come along way.
So the conclusion I come to regarding the interest of bonsai in Ireland I believe comes down to one thing. Spreading the Art of Bonsai. After World War 2, if bonsai did not spread to the western world, its popularity in Europe, Asia, and even America wouldn’t be what it is today. We probably wouldn’t be speaking about this topic right now. It all comes down to word of mouth, shows, bonsai clubs, societies, advertising on and off the web and just causing a fuss about bonsai. Our sister club NIBS started the ball rolling in the North and we hope to continue that passion in the South. We have a lot more work to catch up with the UK in terms of accessibility to clubs, nurseries and workshops. But with the right communication and organising we can put Ireland even more on the Bonsai Map.
Heres looking forward to what 2014 has to offer and what we have to offer Ireland in regards of Bonsai 😉