Parks and Gardens in Ireland

St Stephen's Green, County Dublin

Ireland's best known Victorian public park. Re-opened by Lord Ardilaun in 1880 for the citizens of County Dublin. This 9 hectare / 22 acre park has been maintained in the original Victorian layout with extensive perimeter tree and shrub planting, spectacular spring and summer Victorian bedding. The herbaceous border also provides colour from early spring to late autumn. Sanctuary from inclement weather can be obtained in the Victorian lakeside shelter or in the Victorian Swiss shelters in the center of the park. Over 3.5 km of pathways are accessible for all users. The waterfall and Pulham rock work on the western side of the green are worth of a visit likewise the ornamental lake which provides a home for waterfowl and a garden for the visually impaired. A number of sculptures are located throughout the green. A children's playground is a popular attraction of the park. Lunchtime concerts are performed during the summer months.

Killarney National Park, County Kerry

South and west of the town of Killarney in Co. Kerry is an expanse of rugged mountainous country. This includes the McGillycuddy's Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland which rise to a height of over 1000 metres. At the foot of these mountains nestle the world famous lakes of Killarney. Here where the mountains sweep down to the lake shores, their lower slopes covered in woodlands, lies the 10,236 hectare (26,000 acres), Killarney National Park. The distinctive combination of mountains, lakes, woods and waterfalls under ever changing skies gives the area a special scenic beauty.

The nucleus of the National Park is the 4,300 hectare Bourn Vincent Memorial Park which was presented to the Irish State in 1932 by Senator Arthur Vincent and his parent-in-law, Mr and Mrs William Bowers Bourn in memory of Senator Vincent's late wife Maud.

The focal point of the National Park for visitors is Muckross House and Gardens. The house which is presented as a late 19 th century mansion featuring all the necessary furnishings and artefacts of the period is a major visitor attraction is jointly managed by the Park Authorities and the Trustees of Muckross House.

The former Kenmare Desmene close to Killarney Town is also part of the National Park and features Killarney House and Gardens and Knockreer House which is the education centre of the park.

Killarney National Park contains many features of national and international importance such as the native oakwoods and yew woods together with an abundance of evergreen trees and shrubs and a profusion of bryophytes and lichens which thrive in the mild Killarney climate. The native red deer are unique in Ireland with a presence in the country since the last Ice Age.

Killarney National Park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), part of a world network of natural areas which have conservation, research, education and training as major objectives.

Fitzgerald Park, County Cork

Generations of Cork citizens and visitors have enjoyed the tranquil atmosphere of Fitzgerald Park, people have strolled through the park.

The park is named after Edward Fitzgerald, the city's Lord Mayor and Exhibition Committee chairman who was instrumental in organising Cork's International Exhibition. The legacy of this 'world trade fair' is this oasis on the outskirts of Cork city which still features the original pavilion and ornamental fountain from the Exhibition era.

The gardens play host to Cork Museum, Riverview Café, sculptures, a waterlily-bedecked pond, a variety of sculptures and even a skate park. Daly's Bridge, built in 1926, connects Sundays Well Road with these charming formal gardens. This pedestrian bridge is made from timber planks and is known locally as the 'Shakey Bridge' which spans the river Lee, the habitat of many graceful swans.

This two-storied house was built by Charles Beamish, a brewer c1845 at the cost of £4,000.00 on land he had purchased from the Duke of Devonshire. Shortly after its completion Mr. Beamish had the grounds (destined to become Fitzgerald's Park) laid out with a variety of shrubs and trees, and due to their density the grounds became known as "The Strawberries" and the house "The Shrubbery". In 1886 the house became the home of the Bons Secours Sisters. In the early 1880's it became a private house again in the ownership of Mr. Barry J. Sheehan J. P. who was Mayor of Cork in 1877 and 1884. In 1897 the house became the residence of Mr. Cornelius Desmond a member of the Corporation until he sold it to the Incorporated Cork International Association in 1901 for £3,300. During the Exhibition held in 1902/03 the Committee used the house for visiting dignitaries which included King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

Wicklow Mountains National Park, County Wicklow

Wicklow Mountains National Park is a 204.8-square-kilometre (50,600-acre) protected area in County Wicklow, one of six national parks in the country. The park stretches through County Wicklow as well as small areas of South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown in County Dublin. The park is located in the Wicklow Mountains a short distance south of Dublin. It contains a variety of attractions that are popular with city dwellers seeking recreation, and areas visited by tourists and history enthusiasts.

Connemara National Park, County Galway

Situated in the West of Ireland in County Galway, Connemara National Park covers some 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. Some of the Park's mountains, namely Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack and Muckanaght, are part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range. Connemara National Park was established and opened to the public in 1980.

Much of the present Park lands formed part of the Kylemore Abbey Estate and the Letterfrack Industrial School, the remainder having been owned by private individuals. The southern part of the Park was at one time owned by Richard (Humanity Dick) Martin who helped to form the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals during the early 19th century. The Park lands are now wholly owned by the State and managed solely for National Park purposes.

The Burren National Park, County Clare

The Burren National Park is located in the southeastern corner of the Burren in County Clare and is approximately 1500 hectares in size. The Park land was bought by the Government for nature conservation and public access. It contains examples of all the major habitats within the Burren: Limestone Pavement, Calcareous Grassland, Hazel scrub, Ash/Hazel Woodland, Turloughs, Lakes, Petrifying Springs, Cliffs and Fen. The word "Burren" comes from an Irish word "Boíreann" meaning a rocky place. This is an extremely appropriate name when you consider the lack of soil cover and the extent of exposed Limestone Pavement. However it has been referred to in the past as "Fertile rock" due to the mixture of nutrient rich herb and floral species. In 1651 a Cromwellian Army Officer named Ludlow remarked, "of this barony it is said that it is a country where there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury them. This last is so scarce that the inhabitants steal it from one another and yet their cattle are very fat. The grass grows in tufts of earth of two or three foot square which lies between the limestone rocks and is very sweet and nourishing."

Phoenix Park, County Dublin

The Phoenix Park is over 700 hectares (1752 acres) in area and is the largest enclosed public Park in any capital city in Europe. It was originally formed as a royal hunting Park in the 1660's and opened to the public in 1747. A large herd of fallow deer still remain to this day. The Park which is located in Dublin, is also home to the Zoological Gardens and Aras an Uachtarain and Victorian flower gardens. The Phoenix Park is only 1.5 miles from O'Connell Street. Both passive and active recreational pursuits may be viewed or pursued such as walking, running, polo, cricket, hurling, etc. The Glen Pond is set in very scenic surrounds in the Furry Glen. There are many walks and cycle routes available to the public.

The Dillon Garden, County Dublin

Helen Dillon is a world-renowned plantswoman, writer, lecturer and broadcaster. With her husband Val, she has created a garden that is considered to be one of the gems of the horticultural world in Dublin. This widely acclaimed garden is a mix of startling design and perfectly grown plants – many of them rare and unusual. The view of the garden from the windows of the elegant drawing room is in the lexicon of most photographed scenes in contemporary gardening.

A dominant feature in the garden is a canal set in Irish limestone, bordered on each side by superb borders – one mainly in red and the other in shades of dreamy blue. Behind the borders pathways lead into garden rooms. A recent addition is a gravel garden planted mainly with exotically-leaved members of the Araliaceae family.

Change is a feature of this magnificent garden. This spring has seen the transformation of the front garden from a sophisticated town garden to a birch-Change is a feature of this magnificent garden. This spring has seen the transformation of the front garden from a sophisticated town garden to a birch-bordered glade with exciting new planting.

National Botanic Gardens, County Dublin

The National Botanic Gardens is noted for its fine plant collections holding over 15,000 plant species and cultivars from a variety of habitats from all around the world in Dublin. Famous for its exquisitely restored and planted glasshouses, notably the Turner Curvilinear Range and the Great Palm House, both recipients of the Europa Nostra award for excellence in conservation architecture. Visitors can enjoy such features as the Herbaceous borders, rose garden, the alpine yard, the pond area, rock garden and arboretum. Conservation plays an important role in the life of the botanic garden and Glasnevin is home to over 300 endangered plant species from around the world including 6 species, which are already extinct in the wild.

Irish National War Memorial Gardens, County Dublin

The Irish National War Memorial Gardens is an Irish war memorial in Islandbridge, Dublin, dedicated "to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914–1918", out of over 300,000 Irishmen who served in all armies.

The Memorial Gardens also commemorate all other Irish men and women who at that time served, fought and died in Irish regiments of the Allied armies, the British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African and United States armies in support of the Triple Entente's war effort against the Central Powers.

Saint Anne's Park, County Dublin

St Anne's Park is a public park within Dublin City Council, situated between Raheny and Clontarf, both suburbs on the northside of Dublin, Ireland.

The park, the second largest municipal park in Dublin, is part of a former 202 hectares (500 acres) estate assembled by members of the Guinness family, descendants of Sir Arthur Guinness, founder of the famous brewery, beginning with Benjamin Lee Guinness in 1835 (the largest municipal park is nearby (North) Bull Island, also shared between Clontarf and Raheny). Features include an artificial pond and a number of follies, a fine collection of trees, a playground, parklands walks and recreational facilities including golf.

The Red Stables Food Market runs every Saturday from 10am to 5pm (10am to 4pm in winter) in St Anne’s Park, Raheny, County Dublin.

Stall holders for the Red Stables Food Market include bespoke foods such as hand made chocolates, artisan cheeses and preserves, organic meat, fresh baked bread, cakes and biscuits, toasted nuts and organic produce.

The Red Stables is a Victorian two-storey building, located on the Clontarf side of St Anne’s Park which has been sensitively restored by Dublin City Council. The complex includes design studios, artist work spaces, a commercial gallery, café and courtyard area and is managed by the Dublin City Council. Formerly owned by the Guinness family, St Anne’s estate was acquired by Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council) in the late 1930s. The park is open to the public and attracts visitors young and old. The Red Stables are located just off the main avenue, between the world famous Rose Gardens and the children’s playground.

Iveagh Garden, County Dublin

The Iveagh Gardens are among the finest and least known of Dublin's parks and gardens. They were designed by Ninian Niven, in 1865, as an intermediate design between the 'French Formal' and the 'English Landscape' styles. They demonstrated the artistic skills of the landscape Architect of the mid 19th century and display a unique collection of landscape features which include Rustic Grotto's and Cascade, sunken formal panels of lawn with Fountain Centre Pieces, Wilderness, Woodlands, Maze, Rosarium, American Garden, Archery Grounds, Rockeries and Rooteries.

The conservation and restoration of the Gardens commenced in 1995 and to date most of the features have been restored, for example the Maze in Box hedging with a Sundial as a centrer piece. The recently restored Cascade and exotic tree ferns all help to create a sense of wonder in the 'Secret Garden'. The pre 1860s rose varieties add an extra dimension to the Victorian Rosarium.

Tralee Town Park, County Kerry

In the heart of Tralee you will discover Tralee Town Park, a restful parkland which was formerly part of the Denny Demesne in County Kerry. The park boasts leisure walks, rose gardens, garden of the senses, playground & a commemorative fountain. On summer evenings the air is scented with the fragrance of roses; the park's rose garden holds one of the most extensive collections in Ireland. The most recent addition to the garden is the glass memorial wall which surrounds the statue of William & Mary & is en-scribed with the names of all past & present Roses.

Ballycroy National Park, County Mayo

Ballycroy National Park was established in November 1998, it is Ireland’s sixth National Park and is located on the Western seaboard in northwest Mayo. It comprises of 11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and mountainous terrain, covering a vast uninhabited and unspoilt wilderness dominated by the Nephin Beg mountain range. Between Nephin beg and Slieve Carr, at 721metres above sea level, the highest mountain in the range, lie the Scardaun Loughs.

To the west of the mountains is the Owenduff bog. This is one of the last intact active blanket bog systems in Ireland and Western Europe and is an important scientific and scenic feature of the National Park. The Park also protects a variety of other important habitats and species. These include alpine heath, upland grassland, heath and lakes and river catchments. Greenland White-fronted geese, Golden plover, Red Grouse and Otters are just some of the important fauna found within the Park. The National Park is itself part of the Owenduff/Nephin Complex Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). These European designations are part of the Natura 2000 Network, which protect rare and important habitats and species under the EU Habitats and Birds Directive.

Gleninchaquin Park, County Kerry

Gleninchaquin Park provides breath-taking landscapes and scenery in which it is a sheer delight to wander around over streams with log bridges, mountain paths with carved steps, through rock passages, along glens and lakes to higher altitude in Kenmare, County Kerry. Marvel at the view overlooking the lakes, delicate green meadows, a spectacular 140 metre high waterfall, woodlands and Kenmare Bay, all framed by the Killarney McGillicuddy Reeks along the horizon.

This idyllic valley is perfectly suited for day outings with the entire family. Ample parking facilities are provided close to the waterfall and picnic areas. The walk routes around the waterfall, cascades, streams, woodlands and lakes are accessible for all ages. Also, feel free to bring your own lunch basket for a picnic within the park.

Marlay Demesne, County Dublin

Marlay Demesne or Park is one of several regional public parks in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area of County Dublin. Found in Rathfarnham, Marlay is an extensive 100-hectare historic demesne which lies at the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. The demesne contains many important historic features, including a restored Georgian house, courtyards and regency walled gardens. It is also home to lawns, fine old trees and a number of large ponds fed by the Little Dargle River as it runs through the park. Marlay Demesne caters for various sporting activities, including football, soccer, tennis, par-3 golf, cricket, orienteering and running. The demesne also includes children’s play facilities and hosts a range of events throughout the year.

Bantry House and Gardens, County Cork

Bantry House (originally called 'Blackrock') was constructed in about 1700 on the South side of Bantry Bay, County Cork. In 1750, Councillor Richard White bought Blackrock from Samuel Hutchinson and changed the name to Seafield. The Whites had settled on Whiddy Island across the Bay in the late 17th century, after having originally been merchants in Limerick. The family prospered and considerable purchases of land were made in the area surrounding the house. By the 1780s, Bantry House comprised some 80,000 acres (320 km²) (though much of this would not be arable). The house has been open to tourism since 1946.

The gardens of Bantry House were developed by the second Earl of Bantry and his wife Mary. Inspiration was taken from their travels across Europe. The gardens contain seven terraces; the house is located on the third. One hundred steps are located behind the house and are built to appear to rise out of a fountain and are surrounded by azaleas and rhododendron. The gardens are constantly tended and maintained.

Birr Castle Gardens, County Offaly

Birr Castle Gardens in County Offaly, have a rich history attached to them. They were originally landscaped around the lake in the 18th century by Sir William Parsons, and over the generations of the Parsons family the Demesne has increased in beauty and interest. It now has plant material collected and subscribed for by 3 generations of the Earls of Rosse, as well as some of the most famous plant hunters past and present. It was the first garden in Ireland to receive specimens of Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) after its discovery in China in 1945. The garden comes alive in spring with spring flowering bulbs and a vast Magnolia collection.

Tranquil Waterfalls, Lake and Rivers Water are a prominent feature of the Demesne. Wherever you walk you are always close to water. Cross over the enchanting waterfall above the gravity fed fountain in the Victorian Fernery, or follow the River Walk to the double bridges where the Little Brosna and Camcor meet.

Here you will find the romantic hornbeam cloister walk, planted by Anne, Countess of Rosse in the 1940s around an original layout. It boasts the world's tallest box hedges. Tucked away in an intimate courtyard is a pergola with a spectacular wisteria. A collection of old roses compliments the delphinium border in season.

Animal Habitats the lake and rivers play host to the otter. If you are quiet, and lucky!, you may see these shy animals - as well as a glint of blue as the kingfisher flashes by. Herons, swans and mallard duck are all visitors to the lake. The red squirrel has become a very visible occupant, and the wildflower meadows and woodlands provide support for a host of small animals, including insects and aquatic life.

Avondale House and Forest Park, County Wicklow

Avondale House, Avondale, County Wicklow, Ireland is the birthplace and home of Charles Stewart Parnell (1846–1891) one of the greatest political leaders of Irish history. It is set in a magnificent Avondale Forest Park of over 2 km² with tree trails and walks ranging in duration from one to five hours. The river Avonmore flows through the park.

It is a Georgian house, designed by James Wyatt and built in 1777. It is notable for its fine plasterwork and still contains many original pieces of furniture. The American Room is dedicated to Admiral Charles Stewart (1778-1869), Parnell's American grandfather who commanded the USS Constitution (now moored in Boston Harbor) during the War of 1812.

The State purchased Avondale in 1904 and it was here that the first silvicultural experimental plots were laid. The 500 acre park today has a number of marked walks, - River Walk, Exotic Walk, Pine Walk, Sli na Slainte walk, Cairn Walk and this year the new Centenary Walk.

Glenveagh National Park and Castle, County Donegal

Glenveagh covering 110 square kilometres of hillside above Glenveagh Castle on the shore of Lough Veagh, some 20 km from Gweedore in County Donegal, Ireland — forms the heart of the Glenveagh National Park, the largest in Ireland. The network of mainly informal gardens displays a multitude of exotic and delicate plants from as far afield as Chile, Madeira and Tasmania, all sheltered by windbreaks of pine trees and ornamental rhododendrons.

The gardens and castle were presented to the Irish nation in 1981 by Henry P. McIlhenny of Philadelphia who had purchased the estate in 1937. The park now has the largest herd of red deer in Ireland and golden eagle, formerly extinct in Ireland, were reintroduced into the park in 2000.

Glenveagh Castle is a large castellated Mansion house built in the Scottish Baronial style, situated within Glenveagh National Park near Churchill and Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland. The castle was built between 1870 and 1873 and consists of a four storey rectangular keep surrounded by a garden, and has a backdrop of some 165.4 km² (40,873 acres) of mountains, lakes, glens and woods complete with a herd of red deer. The Visitor Centre has displays that explain the park as well as an audio-visual show and is accessible for visitors with disabilities. The gardens and castle were left to the Irish nation in 1981 by Henry Plumer McIlhenny of Philadelphia, who had purchased the estate in 1937. Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo stayed at the castle while McIlhenny owned it. The Irish Gleann Bheatha translates into English as "Valley of the Birches".

Corkagh Park, County Dublin

Corkagh Park is located near the Naas road stretching towards Clondalkin, in County Dublin. Opened to the public in 1986, it consists of 120 hectares and was formerly part of Corkagh Demense.

The landscape of the park is typical of estate parkland in appearance, with large open expanses of grassland. Panoramic views through the Park's flat to gently undulating scenery lead the eye to the foothills of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains. The landscape is also part of the flood plain of the River Camac, which flows through the park in an easterly direction on its way to the River Liffey. It fed a number of mills in the area which are now in ruins. The adjacent lands contain the ruins of mills which were used for making gunpowder, oil and various other products, and it is intended to redevelop these as well as the walled garden and former courtyards of the demesne as an enterprise and heritage centre.

Corkagh Playground is located in the heart of Corkagh Park, bordering a woodland and stream, the setting is very picturesque and people of all ages visit it for play and picnics. This is a large playground providing play opportunities for both junior (two-six years) and senior (six-twelve years) age groups. Additionally Corkagh Pet Farm is located near the visitor centre and rose garden and is home to an aviary and animal enclosure for housing a range of farm animals and pets.

Lismore Castle and Gardens, County Waterford

Lismore Castle is located in the town of Lismore, in County Waterford in Ireland. Henry II visited Lismore in 1171 and chose a site for a castle. Raymond le Gros and his Anglo-Normans ransacked the town two years later and Henry’s castle site was built upon by Prince John in 1185. These events marked a decline in influence for monastic Lismore. In 1363, the diocese was united with that of Waterford, although it retained its cathedral until the Reformation.

The castle passed to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1589 and Raleigh sold it to Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, in 1602. He immediately set about fashioning the countryside round Lismore in the English way, with stocked deer parks, fruits orchards, fish ponds and other features of the English Lordly manor estate. In 1753, the castle passed to the 4th Duke of Devonshire on his marriage to Lady Charlotte and the present castle is still owned by the Devonshires.

Spread over nearly 3 hectares, the historic gardens at Lismore Castle in County Waterford are divided into two very distinct and different halves. The gardens contain a fine collection of magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons, herbaceous borders and contemporary sculpture and a remarkable yew walk where Edmund Spenser is said to have written ‘The Faerie Queen’.

Salthill Gardens, County Donegal

Salthill Garden is located less than 200m of the sea, just outside Mountcharles, County Donegal. This contemporary garden whispers stories of walled gardens past, but today stands independently of trends and restorative themes. Since 1985, four walls, gravel paths, a greenhouse and continual green lawn have been gradually transformed to the present individually styled garden. The evolution continues season by season, always featuring a good selection of perennials, vegetables and shrubs. Now vegetables are grown traditional Donegal style in 12 foot wide ridges around the walls, with the decorative plants in the centre. Planting is designed to give a season long display - starting with daffodils and other spring bulbs, and running through hard working plants like thalictrums, hardy geraniums, lichnis, agapanthus, cardoons, and phlox - and crocosmia wreathe a circular lawn.

The walled garden creates a microclimate, and gives protection against the winds once used to dry the salt which gives the townland its name.

The Ewe Sculpture Garden, County Cork

The Ewe Sculpture Garden & Gallery in County Cork is must see for anyone intrested in art, nature or just a totally unique experience. The perfect destination for a memorable day out. Set along a spectacualr waterfall it is a journey like no other. Slowly explore the mandering pathways and hidden corners. Take the Evolution Walk through the Valley of Eden, weave your past humourous sculptures, and discover a surprise at every turn.

The Ewe is a unique combination of nature and art and Ireland's only interactive sculpture garden. Such creative havens can be found in only a few places in Europe. For ten years Sheena Wood and her writer husband, Kurt, ran the successful Ewe Art Centre on the Mizen peninsula. After two years of building work the Glengarriff sculpture garden reopened in 2006 as a continuation of that work. The indoor and outdoor art works are by Sheena, a prolific artist with an impressive range of work from paintings to textiles, mixed media, mosaics, ceramics and sculpture. The sound of trickling water accompanies you, as you cross the bridge into the garden. The waterfall cascades down beside Falling Water Lodge, a timber clad house, designed and built by the artist.

Cultural Map of Ireland