Places to visit: Gardens

Helen Dillon's Garden

Dublin Garden Trail

The picture above is of the much loved and much missed Helen Dillon’s Garden, closed permanently at the end of September 2016.

You may be interested in a number of not so well known Dublin area gardens which are described in detail on

The Dublin Garden Trail consists of Ireland’s most distinguished private gardens in the greater Dublin area – some of them world famous and others secret gems – whose discovery has been the highlight of many a Garden Tour.

The owners of these private gardens, most of which are not open to the public, would like to welcome groups to share their enthusiasm for and knowledge of their plants and designs at a time when they can see them at their best.

Ardán (

Corke Lodge (
Dower House (

June Blake’s Garden (
Knockrose (

Mornington Garden (
Trudder Grange Garden (
Tyrrelstown House (

Two members of the Dublin Garden Trail who have separate entries within the Dublin Places To Visit website are Hunting Brook Gardens and Mount Usher Gardens.


Farmleigh House

Farmleigh House ****

Farmleigh is an estate of 78 acres located in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Owned by the State, it provides accommodation for visiting dignitaries & guests of the nation, hosts high level Government meetings, and is also available to be enjoyed by the public.

Farmleigh remains a unique representation of its heyday, the Edwardian period, when wealthy industrialists had replaced landowners as the builders of large mansions in Ireland. Their tastes were eclectic, mixing a variety of architectural styles and decors.

Edward Cecil Guinness, first Earl of Iveagh, the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, built Farmleigh around a smaller Georgian house in the 1880’s. Many of the artworks and furnishings he collected for Farmleigh remain in the house on loan from the Guinness family to the State. The Benjamin Iveagh collection of rare books, bindings and manuscripts is held  in the Library.

The extensive pleasure grounds are a wonderful collection of Victorian and Edwardian ornamental features with walled and sunken gardens, scenic lakeside walks and a range of plants that provide both visual and horticultural interest throughout the seasons. The Estate also boasts a working farm with a herd of Kerry Black cows.

House Tours
Access to Farmleigh House is by guided tour, and includes selected rooms on the ground floor. Guided tours of the House are available on a first come, first serve basis from 10.00 am to 5.30 pm (last entry at 4.30 pm). Tours run every hour (usually at a quarter past the hour) and last approximately 45 minutes. Each tour is strictly limited to twenty-five people and tickets are issued on a first-come-first-served basis.

The grounds and estate are open all year round from 10.00 am-5.30 pm.

Phoenix Park, Dublin 15

Tel: 01 815 5914

House tour €8; concessions

Iveagh Gardens

Iveagh Gardens

Iveagh Gardens is one of the finest and least known of Dublin’s parks and gardens. Access is from Hatch Street.

The gardens were designed by Ninian Niven in 1865 as a cross between the ‘French Formal’ and the ‘English Landscape’ styles. The gardens demonstrate the artistic skills of the landscape architect of the mid 19th century; they display a unique collection of landscape features including rustic grottos, a cascade, sunken formal panels of lawn with fountain centre pieces, a rosarium, an American garden, and archery grounds.

The conservation and restoration of the gardens commenced in 1995 and to date most of the features have been restored (e.g. the maze in box hedging with a sun dial as a centre 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.

Open Mon-Sat: 8.00 am. Open Sun & Bank Holidays: 10.00 am.

Gardens close
Dec-Jan: 3.30 pm approx.
Feb & Nov: 4.00 pm approx.
March-Oct: 6.00 pm

Clonmel Street, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 475 7816.

Free admission.

Malahide Castle ****

Malahide Castle is one of Ireland’s oldest castles dating back to the 12th Century. Set on 260 acres, the castle has been home to the Talbot family for over 800 years. The guided tour allows one to get a feel for the history of the house, and to admire the period furniture and an extensive collection of Irish portrait paintings.

Malahide Castle was built by the Talbots, an English family holding the title Earls of Shrewsbury. Richard Talbot arrived in Ireland in 1174, and in 1185 he was granted the lands and harbour of Malahide by Henry II for his “war-like” services in the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland. With the exception of a short time during the Cromwellian period, the Talbot family resided in Malahide for the next eight centuries.

The Talbots are reputed to have been a diplomatic family, carefully manoeuvring between the authority of church and state. During the eight centuries between 1185 and the 1970s, their tenure at Malahide Castle was only broken for a brief interlude between 1649 and 1660 when their lands were seized by Cromwellian soldiers.

Although the Talbots had taken the Jacobite side, their land holdings were not confiscated after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Fourteen members of the Talbot family, who had breakfasted together on the morning of the battle in the Great Hall of Malahide Castle, died on the battlefield.

The Talbots left an extraordinary legacy in Malahide and beyond. Among the family members were noted statesmen, churchmen and scholars and one great member of the family, Sir John Talbot, was immortalized in Shakespeare’s play ‘Henry VI’. Thirty individual Talbots had their seat at Malahide, from the first Lord Richard Talbot to Lord Milo Talbot, the 7th Baron, who died in 1973.

In 1975, Rose Talbot sold the castle to the Irish State, partly to fund inheritance taxes. Many of the contents had been sold in advance, leading to considerable public controversy, but private and governmental parties were able to retrieve some. Rose died in Tasmania in 2009.

The ornamental gardens adjoining the castle cover an area of about 22 acres and were largely created by Lord Milo Talbot, an enthusiastic plant collector who brought specimens from around the world to create the gardens here. In all, there are in excess of 5000 different species and varieties of plants present.  

The extensive system of pedestrian paths throughout the estate are perfect for walking and exploring the picturesque tree-lined park.

Open 7 days 9.30 am–5.30 pm
Last guided tours of castle at 4.30 pm Apr-Oct, 3.30 pm Nov-March

Closed 24-26 Dec.

Malahide, Co. Dublin.

Tel: 01 8169538.

Adults €14; concessions.

Marlay Park Walled Gardens

Marlay Park Walled Gardens***

Marlay Park Walled Gardens were restored in 2000 under the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme. The gardens were traditionally divided into three walled parts, two of which are now on view. Marlay Park in general is a fine but bland amenity; however, the walled gardens (which are somewhat hidden from view) are well worth a visit.

On entering through the head gardener’s house and tea rooms, the central position is taken by a Regency-style ornamental garden, featuring an extensive display of colourful period plants, ranging from herbaceous borders to shrub beds. The orangery, arbour and water fountain combine with the other features to create a distinctive atmosphere. The adjacent kitchen garden with its restored bothies is set out in a traditional early-nineteenth century manner and has a fine collection of regency fruit trees and vegetables.

Opening hours:
September 9.00 am – 8.00 pm
October 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
November to January 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
February to March 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
April 9.00 am – 9.00 pm
May to August 9.00 am – 10.00 pm

Marlay Park, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Tel: 01-2047275 or 01-2054341

Admission free. Enter through Boland’s coffee shop.

Apart from the walled gardens, Marlay Park is an extensive 247-acre historic demesne containing many historic features. The Park hosts a range of events throughout the year. It contains lawns, fine old trees and a number of large ponds fed by the Little Dargle River. The amenity caters for various sporting activities, including football, soccer, tennis, cricket, orienteering and running. It also includes children’s play facilities. Once the property of the La Touche banking family, the late eighteenth century house has been restored for public use.

National Botanic Gardens

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. 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 and Glasnevin is home to over 300 endangered plant species from around the world including 6 species, which are already extinct in the wild.

Free guided tours Sunday at 12.00 pm and 2.30 pm
Daily Guided Tours Monday to Saturday at 11.30 am and 3.00 pm – €5 per person
Pre-booked Guided Tours available for groups – €5 per person

Open every day except Christmas Day

WINTER opening hours (from second last Sunday of October to last Sunday in February)
Monday to Friday 9.00 am – 4.30 pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays 10.00 am – 4.30 pm
SUMMER opening hours (first Sunday in March to last Sunday of October)
Monday to Friday 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays 10.00 am – 6.00 pm

Botanic Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

Tel: 01 8570909 and 01 8040300.

Free admission.

Car parking charge €2 for two hours. €2 per hour thereafter.

Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park

The Phoenix Park contains over 700 ha. (1752 acres) and is the largest enclosed public park in any capital city in Europe. Open to the public since 1747, the Park is home to a large herd of fallow deer, a Visitor’s Centre, a Victorian kitchen walled garden (2.5 acres) , the Zoological Gardens and Aras an Uachtarain (the President’s residence). There are many walks & cycle routes.

The Park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The walled kitchen gardens are open daily 10.00 am-5.00 pm all year round.

On the second Saturday of every month, visitors can meet the Park Gardeners between 10.30 am and 12.30 pm in the Kitchen Garden.

The Visitors’ Centre houses an exhibition on the history/wildlife of the Park. Nearby is the fully restored Ashtown Castle, a medieval tower house.
Open May-Oct 7 days a week 10.00 am-5.45 pm (last admission 5.00 pm). Nov-Apr closed on Mon & Tues, open Wed-Sun 9.30 am-5.30 pm (last admission 4.45 pm). Tel: 01-6770095.

Tours of Ashtown Castle are organised from the Visitors’ Centre from April to September.  The Castle tour times are 10.30 am, 12 pm, 1.30 pm, 3 pm and 4.30 pm.

There are tours of Grangegorman Military Cemetery on Blackhorse Avenue (Dublin 7) from April 5th to November 30th on Thursdays at 11.00 am. Walkers assemble inside the Cemetery Gates. Admission is free and all are welcome. Please wear suitable shoes and clothing. For further information, phone 01-6770095.

The Magazine Fort is strategically sited on St Thomas Hill, off the Military Road, and close to the Islandbridge Gate. It was built in 1734 -1736 to store gun powder and ammunition for British Government Forces. One third of the British Army was stationed in Ireland and was regularly rotated around the Empire. The Fort was raided on two occasions: Easter Monday 1916 and the 23rd of December 1939.

Free guided tours are available. Tickets are limited and are issued from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, on a first come first served basis on the day of the tour. Phone 01-6770095 the day before arrival as there can be short notice closures. Tours run from April 8th to October – on Sundays only at 10.00 am, 12.00 pm & 2.00 pm.

Visitors have access to a number of areas within the Fort including one of the magazines and two viewing platforms. Conservation works are ongoing within the Fort. Ground conditions are uneven so sturdy footwear is advised and suitable outdoor clothing should be worn. (Phoenix Park) (Peoples’ Flower Gardens) (Visitor Centre, Ashtown Castle)

Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 8205800.

Admission free.

Royal Hospital Kilmainham

Royal Hospital Kilmainham ***

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham is a 17th Century building modelled on Les Invalides in Paris as a home for old, sick and disabled soldiers. The building contains the Master’s Quarters, the Great Hall, the Chapel, a magnificent Courtyard and a Vaulted Cellar. There are notable formal gardens. The Royal Hospital is now home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art/IMMA (please click here for more information about IMMA).

There is a small but excellent exhibition – “Old Man’s House” – about the history of the Hospital and its pensioners.

Heritage guided tours are provided on request only (please email to enquire).

You can read a full account of the Hospital’s fascinating history at

Old Man’s House exhibition, grounds and gardens open Mon-Sat 10.00 am – 5.00 pm;
Sunday and Bank Holidays 12 noon – 5.00 pm.

Military Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Tel: 087 1169347

Admission free.

St Stephens Green

St. Stephen’s Green

St. Stephen’s Green is Ireland’s best known Victorian public park. The extensive grounds amount to some 9 hectares (22 acres) and are maintained in the original Victorian layout. There are lunchtime concerts during the summer months.

Re-opened by Lord Ardilaun in 1880 for the citizens of Dublin, the park has been maintained in the original Victorian layout with extensive perimeter tree and shrub planting, and spectacular spring and summer Victorian bedding. The herbaceous border 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 centre of the park.

Open Mon-Sat 7.30 am till dusk, Sun & Bank Holidays 9.30 am till dusk. Gardens open 10.00 am -1.00 pm on Christmas Day.

The closing time of the gardens varies in line with daylight hours. 

St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 475 7816.

Admission free.

The Green Mile walking tour of St Stephen’s Green is a new venture by the Little Museum of Dublin. The Green Mile tour tells the story of a square which has been at the centre of Irish history for hundreds of years. Every year 8.1 million people walk through St Stephen’s Green; the park has long served as a backdrop for public and private drama, as well as being the setting for many great love stories. The tour begins with a short presentation at the Little Museum. Participants then embark on a 60-minute walk in the company of an expert local guide. The tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays at 11.00 am and are free with your entry ticket to the Little Museum of Dublin, 15 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Phone 01-6611000.

War Memorial Garden

War Memorial Gardens

These gardens are one of the most famous memorial gardens in Europe. They are dedicated to the memory of 49,400 Irish soldiers who died in the 1914 – 1918 war. The names of all the soldiers are contained in the beautifully illustrated Harry Clarke manuscripts in the granite book rooms in the gardens.

These gardens are not only a place of remembrance but are also of great architectural interest and beauty. They are one of four gardens in this country designed by the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944). The others are Heywood Gardens, Lambay Island and Howth Castle.

Sunken rose gardens, herbaceous borders and extensive tree planting make for an enjoyable visit to the gardens in any season.

Open: Mon-Fri 8.00 am, Sat-Sun 10.00 am.
Closing time varies in line with daylight hours.

Islandbridge, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 475 7816.

Admission free.