This website primarily covers attractions in Dublin City and County. The “Further Afield” section is an introduction to selected attractions from four counties adjoining Dublin (Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow).
The Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre is located in the recently restored 18th century Oldbridge House, which is on the battle site. The Battle of the Boyne between King William III and his father-in-law, King James II, was fought on 1 July 1690 (11 July according to our modern calendar).
Both kings commanded their armies in person. William had 36,000 men and James had 25,000 – the largest number of troops ever deployed on an Irish battlefield. English, Scottish, Dutch, Danes and Huguenots (French Protestants) made up William’s army (Williamites), while James’ men (Jacobites) were mainly Irish Catholics, reinforced by 6,500 French troops sent by King Louis XIV. At stake were the British throne, French dominance in Europe and religious power in Ireland.
William’s camp was on the north side of the river. James’s was on the south side with the two armies facing each other. William’s battle plan was to trap the Jacobite army in a pincer movement. He sent 10,000 men towards Slane which drew the bulk of the Jacobities upstream in response. With 1,300 Jacobites posted in Drogheda, only 6,000 were left at Oldbridge to confront 26,000 Williamites. All the fighting took place on the south side of the river, as the vastly outnumbered Jacobites defended their position against the advancing Williamites. William himself crossed at Drybridge with 3,500 mounted troops.
The pincer movement failed. King James’s army retreated across the River Nanny at Duleek and regrouped west of the Shannon to carry on the war. Approximately 1,500 soldiers were killed at the Boyne.
There is an admission fee to the House. There is free access to the battle site, to the parklands and to the formal gardens. One can also visit displays of original and replica 17th Century weaponry, exhibitions, an audiovisual programme, and a walled garden.
Oldbridge House was built in the 1740’s by either John Coddington or his nephew Dixie Coddington. It is believed to have been designed by George Darley, a local mason architect who also designed the renovated Dunboyne Castle, Dowth House and The Tholsel in Drogheda, Co. Louth. To the left of the house there is a cobble stone stable yard with fine cut stable block. This originally contained coach houses, stables, tack and feed rooms. To the right of the house is a small enclosed courtyard which contains the former butler’s house which is not open to the public.
The Victorian walled garden has been recently restored, along with a glasshouse and a unique sunken octagonal garden. There is a Garden Exhibition in the Bothy. The garden facilities are open daily all year round and admission is free.
Optional self guiding walks are available through the core battle site and Oldbridge Estate. The use of these walks is free of charge. Several orientation panels and maps are located at the start and access points to the walks.
Group tours (for ten or more persons) can be booked.
Open May-Sept daily 9.00 am-5.00 pm;
Oct-Apr daily 9.00 am-4.00 pm.
Closed from 24 Dec-Jan 2.
Oldbridge, Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Tel: 041 9809950.
Adults €5; concessions. Free admission on the first Wednesday of every month.
Car Park and Main Gate locked two hours after above closing times.
Beaulieu House and Gardens is an ancient estate overlooking the banks of the River Boyne, just over three miles from the town of Drogheda. For over 800 years the estate has been home to just two families, the Plunketts and the Tichbournes.
Originally the site of a Norman fortress, the Plunkett family first inhabited a motte and bailey and then a Jacobean house, the remains of which can be found in the fabric of the building you see today. No one knows where Beaulieu’s name originated, but the name can be seen on a 1650 map of the area.
The buildings at Beaulieu evolved over time from tower house to Jacobean building, finally being redesigned as a grand mansion in the English style by the Tichbourne family. As such, it is a rare example of late 17th century Irish domestic architecture which has survived without alterations. With the building of the house completed mainly between 1660-66, interior decorations, paintings, wood carvings and the grand staircase were the last of the improvements to be added (in 1723).
Four acres of historic walled garden and grassy terraces is situated close by. Family letters from the period tell us that exotic fruits, such as figs and nectarines were being grown by Sir Henry Tichbourne in the 1720s, much to his delight as he boasts about them to his half brother, Lord Molesworth. The same letters describe Sir Henry’s domestic improvements and his impatience with the builders, but he is especially proud of his new staircase (manufactured in Dublin and delivered by boat before the winter of 1723).
A painter and designer named William Van Der Hagen is associated with Beaulieu. Van Der Hagen began a painting career in Ireland around 1718 painting sets at the Dublin Theatre Royal, and went on to become the founding father of Irish landscape painting. Visiting Beaulieu is an opportunity to see some of his early work painted on panel, including a city scape of Drogheda and a spectacular ceiling painting attributed to him of the goddess Aurora descending from the heavens in her chariot.
Open 1 June to 10 Sept Mon to Fri 11.00 am-5.00 pm. Also open July/Aug Sat, Sun 1.00 pm-5.00 pm. Also open May Bank Holiday weekend (see website for full details).
There are guided tours of the house (with self-guided visits to the gardens).
Beaulieu House, Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Tel: 041 983 8557.
Adults €10 (guided tour of house, self-guided tour of garden); children under 16 free.
The Boyne Valley Garden Trail includes a number of historic gardens, smaller scale gardens and garden centres located within easy driving distance of each other in Counties Meath and Louth. A map can be consulted at www.boynevalleygardentrail.com
Each garden hosts different events, including walks, charity fetes, music events, outdoor theatre, exotic and rare plant sales and harvest festivals.
The locations listed include:
Balrath House and Courtyard, Navan, Co. Meath
Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Co. Meath
Battle of the Boyne Visitors Centre, Oldbridge House, Drogheda, Co. Meath
Beaulieu House and Gardens, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Boyne Garden Centre, Ardcalf, Slane, Co. Meath
Bramley Cottage (Jane McCorkell’s Garden), The Rath, Killsallaghan, Co. Meath
College Hill House, Bryanstown, Slane, Co. Meath
Collon House, Ardee Street, Collon, Co. Louth
Forest Edge (no address given)
Francis Ledwidge Museum & Garden, Janeville, Slane, Co. Meath
Julianstown Village Garden, Julianstown Village, Co. Meath.
Kilgar Gardens, Kilgar House, Gallow, Kilcock, Co. Meath
Killineer House & Gardens, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Listoke House & Gardens, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Loughcrew House & Gardens, Oldcastle, Co. Meath
Ratoath Garden Centre, Ashbourne, Co. Meath
Riverlane Nurseries, Roristown Lodge, Trim, Co. Meath
Rokeby Hall, Dunleer, Co. Louth
Rosemount, Julianstown, Co. Meath
St. Mary’s Abbey, Abbey Lane, Trim, Co. Meath
Talbot Castle, Trim, Co. Meath
Tankardstown House, Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath
See full details about each location at – www.boynevalleygardentrail.com
Hunting Brook Gardens consists of 5 acres of botanical herbaceous gardens and 15 acres of woodland gardens and valley. Jimi Blake, its creator, collects plants from foreign expeditions and sources rare seeds globally. This is a dynamic, innovative garden, a fusion of tropical, prairie and woodland styles. There are expansive views over the Wicklow Mountains.
The gardens are located between Brittas and Blessington on the N81.
From April to October inclusive, the gardens are open to the public for informal visits from Wed-Sun each week (11.00 am-5.30 pm); phone in advance to double check. Outside the seasonal visiting hours, you can phone to book an appointment. There are also a number of organised “open days” (special event Sundays) during the year; for full details, see www.huntingbrook.com.
Hunting Brook, Lamb Hill, Blessington, Co. Wicklow.
Tel: 087 285 6601.
The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens are adjoining attractions which pull in 150,000 visitors every year.
Racehorses are conceived, born and raised on Tully’s famous Stud Farm, long the source of thoroughbred champions. See six stallions, famed for race track feats.
The Japanese Gardens are the finest of their kind in Europe. Created 1906-1910 by Col. William H. Walker, the gardens symbolise the “Life of Man”, tracing the journey of a soul from oblivion to eternity.
Also visit St. Fiachra’s Garden, designed in 1999 by Martin Hallinan, and the Horse Museum (including a tribute to Arkle, the greatest steeplechaser ever).
Open Mon-Sun 9.00 am-6.00 pm (including Bank Holidays). Last admission 5.00 pm.
Guided tours of the stud at 10.30 am, 12.00 pm, 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm daily, lasting 45 minutes.
Self guided tour of the Japanese Gardens, Saint Fiachra’s Garden and Horse Museum (special leaflet guide available).
Irish National Stud, Tully, Kildare.
Tel: 045 521617.
Adults €12.50; concessions.
Killruddery House and Gardens has been home since 1650 to 16 generations of the Brabazon family. The house was extensively reconstructed in the Tudor Revival style in the 1820s. It contains one of the few remaining 17th Century gardens in these islands, as well as elaborate interiors and a striking Orangery. It is a popular location for television series (e.g. “The Tudors”).
Guided tours of the house – the opening hours are complicated: see www.killruddery.com
Opening times for the Gardens:
April, weekends only 9.30 am – 6.00 pm
May-Sept daily 9.30 am – 6.00 pm
October, weekends only 9.30 am – 6.00 pm
Farm market Sat 10.00 am – 3.00 pm
Southern Cross, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Tel: 01 2863405
Adults €14 (house tour and gardens);
Adults €7.50 (gardens only); concessions.
Kilmacurragh Arboretum is managed by the National Botanic Gardens. It is the remnants of a large estate planted during the 19th century by Thomas Acton in conjunction with David Moore and his son Sir Frederick Moore, curators of the National Botanic Gardens at that time.
It was a period of great botanical and geographical explorations with numerous plant species from around the world being introduced to Ireland for the first time. The different soil and climatic conditions at Kilmacurragh resulted in many of these specimens succeeding there while struggling or failing at Glasnevin. Kilmacurragh is particularly famous for its conifers and rhododendron collections.
Guided Tours: Twice daily from April onwards at 12.00 noon and at 3.00 pm (daily, free of charge) – please phone in advance to double check this.
Open Winter (October 27 to mid-Feb) Mon-Sun 9.00 am – 4.30 pm
Open Summer (mid-Feb to October) Mon-Sun 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
The Cafe hours are 10.00 am – 5.00 pm (summer), otherwise 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Closed Christmas Day
Kilbride, Co. Wicklow (leave the motorway at Junction 18 and follow the signs for 5km).
Tel: 0404 48844 or 01 8570909
Larchill Arcadian Garden is an ornamental Farm (Ferme Ornée) created between 1740 and 1780. It is the only surviving, near complete garden of its type in Europe. It was designed as a pastoral paradise, reflecting man’s harmony with nature. It is a working farm, with decorative buildings, a walled garden, tree-lined avenues, 65 acres of landscaped parkland filled with follies, grottoes, statuary, and an 8-acre lake. Larchill has gained national and international awards following extensive restoration work.
The opening hours are limited (May/June Mon-Fri 10.00 am-2.00 pm; open some May/June weekends; some August dates) – check the Larchill website.
Kilcock, Co. Kildare.
Tel: 01 628 7354.
Adults €8; concessions.
House €9 by appointment only.
For more on gardens in the Dublin area, pay a visit to www.dublingardens.com
Mount Usher Gardens is a highly regarded Irish garden, laid out across 22 acres along the banks of the River Vartry. It is a fine example of a Robinsonian-style garden, with an informal natural design. There are over 5000 species of plant, many of them rare and exotic.
Situated in the village of Ashford, 35 minutes from Dublin on the N11.
Gardens open daily 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Avoca Café and Shopping Courtyard on site (Tel: 0404 40116)
Ashford, Co. Wicklow.
Tel: 0404 40205.
Adults €7.50; concessions.