Dermot O’Neill, gardener and broadcaster, dies

Horticulturalist from Co Dublin wrote books and restored Clondeglass walled garden

Well-known gardener Dermot O’Neill has died at the age of 58.

Mr O’Neill, of Blackrock, Co Dublin, died suddenly at St Vincent’s Hospital on Friday, according to his death notice.

He credited his grandmother as being the person who got him into gardening as a young child. He delivered his first gardening talk at 16 years of age when he addressed the Mother’s Union about flower-arranging.

Mr O’Neill wrote and broadcast about gardening for decades, including a TV series, Dermot’s Secret Garden, which followed his restoration of Clondeglass walled garden in Co Laois.


In a Facebook post, Clondeglass Walled Garden said he “was such an inspiration to so many gardeners over the years”.

He had a series of programmes on RTÉ which made him one of the best-known television personalities in the country. His first appearance on television was in 1982. He became a household name through his slot on the afternoon magazine show Open House.

Mr O’Neill was in regular demand for non-gardening programmes, including the popular travel show Time On Their Hands. He was one of the few guest celebrities to achieve a 5-star rating on RTÉ’s hugely popular show The Restaurant. He also had a regular slot on Pat Kenny and Derek Mooney’s radio shows.

He also wrote several books, was a gardening columnist for the Sunday Times and also wrote for the Sunday Independent.

In 2008, Mr O’Neill appeared in the United States on the St Patrick’s Day episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009. At the time, his skin broke out in a rash and doctors initially thought it was an ulcer.

Mr O’Neill said he had been “horrified and shocked” to realise that he had stomach cancer and lymphoma, and he was still on an emotional journey trying to come to terms with his illness. At one stage, he said, he “cried and cried and cried”.

However, he made a full recovery from the disease in 2011 and spoke frequently about how the walled garden had given him solace during his convalescence.

He is survived by his sisters Carol and Louise and his brothers-in-law Robin and James. Funeral arrangements had yet to be announced on Sunday afternoon.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times