Solas Eco Garden Shop Portarlington
We visited Solas Eco Garden shop on Saturday - I had been dying to go there since I read about them on Facebook. It's a very cool spot to go to - I really loved the industrial chic vibe and the ethos naturally fits in with my own perspective on life so it was great to see it in real life.
I've always had a soft spot for Portarlington, it's where my mum is from and I've many fond memories of hanging out with my cousins in my granny's house there. The town itself has a strong french connection and I remember being there many times for the French Festival when I was younger. I had written briefly before about the French Quarter Café there, which is one of my favourite spots anywhere (although I don't get there as often as I'd like). I've also written about Derryounce which is an incredible amenity, really beautiful and some of the town buildings still reflect the french history with some lovely Georgian and Victorian buildings (not all in great repair unfortunately!) Laois.ie describe Portarlington as follows:
'In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Portarlington was the Paris of the Midlands, a place where French, rather than Irish or English, was spoken on the streets. French Huguenots, escaping persecution in their native land, shaped the culture and the architecture of this bustling Midlands town.'
So if you are a bit of a history nerd, it's well worth having a walk through the town.
Anyway, to get back to Solas Eco Garden Shop, we arrrived quite late so had unfortunately missed the market,which is on from 10-2p.m. every Saturday but we had a good look (or as good as possible with a very energetic 3 year old in tow!) through the garden shop. The range is brilliant, loads of houseplants and very reasonably priced. Lots of great eco garden products and not a bottle of roundup in sight, which makes such a refreshing change!
In fact, there are no harmful garden chemicals stocked at all and they champion sustainable and pollinator friendly gardening.
The overall concept of the site is impressive - the structures are created from disused shipping containers and recycled materials and as I said at the start, I love the feel of it. It's something different, and amazing to see how well it works to incorporate this kind of circular economy design into construction.
We had a look around the outdoor plant section also, and again there's a fantastic range of plants
As you can glimpse above, it was hard to keep our small granddaughter contained so we couldn't give as much time to browsing as we normally would - but we sat down to have a rest then, and a promise of a treat to keep a little person occupied for a while.
My one disappointment was that there was no oatmilk so I decided against coffee and, actually, it was very warm so we all just got ice-cream.
I really liked the outdoor seating area - there are benches with umbrellas in the centre of the courtyard but also seating all around the periphery which is under the wooden structures, so it feels enclosed but open at the same time.
It's a very relaxing space and there's pizza, as well as crepes and ice-cream, plus coffees and teas available.
Another thing worth mentioning is that, apart from the market, Solas also have events and classes - some which have already taken place are a macramé workshop, an eco warrior workshop for kids and a wreath making class.
The website has loads of info about what's on offer in general, as well as the story of how the eco garden shop came about and I've linked it in the first paragraph. They are also on Facebook. You can always follow up your visit there with a walk around Derryounce and make a day trip of it.