Blarney Castle Gardens | The Most Visited in Ireland For a Reason
Located in County Cork, each visit to the 70 acres of gardens at the legendary medieval Blarney Castle is always a unique experience. This is because the grounds are constantly changing and blossoming with the seasons, bringing new surprises around every corner.
A must-see destination, the estate boasts one of Ireland’s finest collections of trees and plants – deriving from all corners of the world. As the country’s first wildlife estate, it stands to reason that this haven – located just a stone’s throw from the city – is a wonderful location to be so close to nature. A stealthy visitor may spot an elusive kingfisher along the riverside walks or a red squirrel in the castle’s arboretum.
Blarney Castle’s gardens are the most visited in Ireland. This is no surprise as there is something for everyone, from the amateur gardener to the seasoned plantsman or even just the family out to explore nature’s wonders.
On site, visitors can discover the historical and magical Rock Close. This is a section of the garden featuring a sacrificial altar of the ancient Druids, a witch’s kitchen, as well as wishing steps believed to make the dreams come true of those who walk upon them.
Other noteworthy gardens contained on Blarney Castle’s grounds include The Jungle – showcasing some of the more exotic plants that can be grown in our climate including banana plants, giant tree ferns and bamboo; and the Himalayan Walk – inspired by locations like India and Vietnam and featuring plants grown from wild collected seed.
For those more daring, there’s also the Poison Garden. This houses plants so dangerous and toxic they must be kept in large cage like structures. They come from all over the world and include wolfsbane, mandrake, ricin, opium and cannabis.
Many of the plants are labelled with information about their toxicity, as well as their traditional and modern uses. In regards the latter, a large number we now know to be toxic were once used widely as herbal remedies for all sorts of ailments. Who knew visiting gardens could be so exciting?
On top of all this, Blarney Castle and Gardens is also frequently home to various other culture and entertainment projects. It will be hosting the International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) exhibition on the grounds until August 20.
IGPOTY is the world’s premier competition and exhibition specialising in garden, plant, flower and botanical photography. The images on display have been described by Blarney Castle as ‘truly spectacular’.
The exhibition will be presented for the public on the IGPOTY outdoor structure in the grounds of the castle. Blarney are the first location in Ireland to host this prestigious exhibition.
Blarney Castle and Gardens is also this year running its annual sculpture exhibition. Titled Sculpture at the Castle 2019, it is set to open in July. Sculptures are incorporated into the atmospheric surroundings of the castle, with pieces installed throughout the formal gardens, natural features and waterways.
The event will showcase Blarney Castle and Gardens’ Wildlife Estates Status. The Wildlife Estates Label provides recognition to exemplary estates that voluntarily agree to adhere to the philosophy of wildlife management and sustainable land use.
In keeping with this, all work submitted to Sculpture at the Castle 2019 must be inspired by or convey aspects of Blarney Castle and Gardens’ Wildlife Estate. The exhibition will run daily until September.
Blarney Castle and Gardens is open all year round. Opening hours until the end of August are from 9.00am to 7.00pm, with last visitor admissions at 6.00pm. Entry for adults costs €18, with student and senior tickets costing €14.
Children under 8 years of age can enter for free. For those over, it’s €8. Buying tickets in advance online allows visitors to take advantage of discounts.
For more information about Blarney Castle and Gardens, visit its website at blarneycastle.ie.