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vert bar IN THE NEWS, April 5, 2011

Senator David Norris launches our Audio Tours and Mobile phone app

Meet the Loneliest Plant in the World
and other surprising stories about plants, people and places...
New technology brings the Botanic Gardens to life

The world’s loneliest male. Vicious plants that can eat sheep. The philosopher’s stone (where Wittgenstein sat and thought). And the shrub that inspired Thomas Moore’s famous melody, ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ . . .

These are just some of over 30 ‘short stories’ featured in three new audio tours and a smartphone app for the National Botanic Gardens. They include some of the gardens’ hidden treasures, its oldest plants, famous glasshouses, and one of the world’s great plant hunters, and come complete with a recording of ‘The Last Rose of Summer’.

The tours turn a fresh spotlight on what is one of Ireland’s most popular and most enduring attractions. The Gardens were begun in Glasnevin during Dublin’s great Georgian era, in 1795, and the new project was launched in the gardens today [Tuesday, April 5, 2011] by one of the great champions of Georgian Dublin, Senator David Norris.

The audio tours (which you download, like a podcast) and the app, are free, and allow visitors to explore the gardens at their own pace. Visitors who don’t have an MP3 player or smart phone are also catered for, with an hour’s highlights available on a handy souvenir audio player.

Director of the National Botanic Gardens, Dr Matthew Jebb, said: “Every plant in our collection has a story to tell, and I’m delighted that we have been able to use these new technologies to bring these stories to every visitor. It is central to our mission to share the importance of plants with our visitors both local and international and I hope that this is the start of many more interactive ways to highlight the value of plants to humanity.”

The stories in the new tours are written and narrated by Matthew Jebb and science writer and broadcaster Mary Mulvihill of Ingenious Ireland, as well as the gardens’ orchid expert Brendan Sayers, and wildlife guide Glynn Anderson.

The audio tours were conceived by Mary Mulvihill, who had made a radio series about the Gardens for RTE in 2007. “I knew there were lots of great stories in the gardens, and an audio tour is the perfect way to tell them to a wider audience, but in a way that doesn’t intrude at all on the plants or the historic gardens. And the beauty of our audio tours is that you don’t even have to be in Dublin– you can enjoy these from the comfort of your own home, wherever you are.”

The tours were made with a grant from the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport under its Cultural Technology Grant Scheme last year, which allows the download and app to be made available free. Visitors can access the tours on www.ingeniousireland.ie and here on this website www.botanicgardens.ie/audio/

Media enquiries: Mary Mulvihill (Ingenious Ireland) 086 845 1947
Matthew Jebb (NBG) 087 637 8399
NBG visitor centre (press launch, Tues April 5th) 01 804 0319
for Photographs, please contact Kate Horgan at info@katehorgan.ie or (+353 87 2404088).
More information:
There are three tours in the new collection, each with 40 minutes of audio commentary. The Green tour explores the famous glasshouse and palm house, and is suitable for cold or wet days; the Yellow tour is an easy stroll around the gardens historic highlights; and the Red tour is an extended walk to the river, for wildlife, roses and even some philosophy.

The app is now available free from the Android app store; the Apple version follows shortly.

Ingenious Ireland: a new company specialising in unusual audio tours and hidden heritage, its next project is a ‘blood and guts’ walking tour of Dublin’s medical history. Other tours include a look inside the Royal Irish Academy and its hidden history on Dawson Street; a geology walking tour of Dublin city; and the history, landscape and heritage of the Hill of Tara, all available to download at www.ingeniousireland.ie