Inspired by the love of unusual gardens and the pursuit of all things horticultural, Go West garden tours provide custom itineraries to suit your needs. What we aim to do is give you a thoroughly enjoyable vacation discovering gardens, old houses and travelling in comfort & style.
Day 1: Welcome to Ireland
Welcome to Ireland, travel to the West of Ireland and Connemara.
This morning we will travel to Connemara, visiting Kylemore Abbey walled gardens. Travel through beautiful Connemara to Kylemore Abbey the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. The community of nuns, who have resided here since 1920, have a long history stretching back almost three hundred and forty years. We will visit the Abbey on the grounds, the Gothic Church, the Victorian Walled Gardens, the Craft Shop, Pottery studio, Restaurant and Tea Rooms as well as the Lake and Woodland walks. A section of the Abbey (the enclosure) is retained strictly for the nuns’ use and is not open to the public; here the nuns devote themselves to their monastic life of prayer and work. After Kylemore, we travel to Cashel House for lunch with its delightful woodland gardens overlooking Cashel Bay.
Overnight & dinner in Galway Hotel.
Day 2: Galway Annacarrig Gardens & Woodville Gardens
This morning we first visit Ardcarraig Gardens in Oranswell north of Galway city owned by Lorna McMahon, who has built herself a house overlooking the tree canopy of her mystical and beautiful gardens. Then continue on towards East Galway where we will have a private lunch in Ballinderry home of George and Susie Gossip and visit the imposing ruins of nearby Kilconnel Abbey.
After lunch and Abbey visit we continue on to Loughrea to visit Woodville Gardens restored under the watchful eye of Daphne Shackleton between 2005 -2009. A visit to Woodville House Walled Garden will take you on a journey through the 18th century as it was once home to two prominent Galway families. The first family, the D’Arcy’s, were one of the “Tribes of Galway City”, resided at Woodville between 1750 and 1879. Robert Darcy was the most colorful character of the family, as he was the Land Agent for the first Marquis of Clanricarde, Ulick John de Burgh, of Portumna Castle for over 30 years including the Famine period 1828 – 1860. Return to your Galway hotel.
Overnight and dinner in Galway Hotel.
Day 3: Burren, Cliffs of Moher & Adare
We depart Galway travelling towards Co Limerick via the Burren. We follow the coastal road along the Galway Bay and through the Burren’s contorted limestone landscape. We will see Corcomroe Abbey, one of the best-known monastic sites in Ireland and built at the end of the 12th century by the Cistercians, or ‘white monks’, and occupied up until the 17th century. Our first stop is in the garden of Carl Wright. We will enjoy a tour of the garden plus tea/coffee.
The karst limestone region of the Burren is a natural wonder, with a lunar-like landscape and mysterious vanishing lakes and underground rivers. Among the most wonderful things about it are the rare wildflowers that grow between the karren pavement: gentians, burnet rose, bloody cranesbill and mountain aven. It is an inspiring area to garden with nature and that is exactly what environmentalist Carl Wright has done. Sheltered areas have been carved out from the hazel and blackthorn scrub around his restored stone cottage in the Caher River valley to frame an interconnecting series of gardens which blend with the natural environment.
This is a plantsman’s garden, with collections of unusual varieties of bulbs and plants, over 200 types of snowdrops, 150 varieties of hosta, daffodils, crocosmia and day lilies. A river runs through this 9 year old one acre garden, winner of the Viking Garden award: a perfect place to discover the possibilities of gardening in the wild.
We then go for lunch in the Tearooms in Ballyvaughan, set in their own lovely gardens, where we will be joined by the wonderful Mary Angela Keane, who will later bring us through the geological and botanical landscape of The Burren limestone plateaux.
Finally we will enjoy a visit to the Cliffs of Moher if time allows. Late afternoon we continue on towards Adare where we will stay for 2 nights at the Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, Ballingarry.
Overnight and Dinner in the Mustard Seed.
Day 4: Churchill House Demense
Today we travel south to spend the day at Churchill House Demesne, being brought through this amazing garden and many superb buildings and follies on the estate. The gardens were designed by Jim Reynolds from 1993 onwards for a Chicago based owner. Churchill is the centre Ballynahaglish Parish. In Churchill , just across from the Church is Churchill House. Edward Denny (who lived around the time of Edwards reign in England) got Tralee town and also 6,000 acres west and north of Tralee , including land at Twlaght , on the condition that he’d build 46 houses for English Protestant families. Thus the Munster Plantation began . Churchill House was built as a refectory in 1741 by Rev. Barry Denny . It has been reconstructed several times since. Churchill House is currently owned by the Kreibhel family.
We will enjoy lunch in the house, catered by The Tankard restaurant, in the Old Gallery in Churchill house.
This evening we will deprat our hotel and enjoy dinner this evening in the home of George and Michelina Stacpoole. Before dinner we will walk through the gardens on the shores of the Shannon Estuary. We will have traditional Irish music after dinner before returning to our hotel.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 5: Fancroft Mills & Clonohill Gardens
We depart for Dublin today. En route we will visit Fancroft Mills, near Roscrea, beautifully restored Mill and gardens, home of Marcus & Irene Sweeney. Following Fancroft we will continue a short distance to Clonohill Gardens.
At Clonohill Gardens, enjoy a guided tour with Enda Thompson. A native of Loais, Enda is 4th generation at Clonohill and is an experienced garden designer, botanist and total plataholic! Clonohill Gardens very much reveal the owners artistic sensitivity and attract much acclaim from visiting groups. The looped trail begins at the woodland area where collections of Trilliums, Helleborus and Galanthus thrive. From there, the path leads on to Jacobs Walk, which provides a colourful surprise for the visitor with its meandering gravel pathway framed by sandstone stables constructed by Enda’s grandfather, the late Jacob Thompson. Varieties of Polemonium (Jacobs Ladder) flourish in this area together with groups of Achillea King Alfred and the small Ligularia ‘cafe noir’. Residing comfortably along the gravel pathway are many miniature Hostas. Heuchera varieties provide foliage colour and strong contrast with Sedums, Veronicas and Candleabra primulas. An archway frames the entrance to the North Garden where one is greeted by an attractive Cytisus battandieri. In this area mature trees provide a decorative home for a vast collection of interesting Ferns and leads on to an extensive open lawn area with its curving paths and many colourful Herbaceous borders. A secret area and popular with children is the ‘Red Squirrels Den’ with its majestic Sitka Spruce trees. The sheltered walled garden overlooking the lake is a plant collectors’ paradise where Ramonda myconi, Roscoea and Celmissias thrive alongside star performers Paeonia mlokosewitschii, Mecanopsis grandis and Cardiocrinum giganteum.
We can enjoy a light lunch with tea/coffee at Clonohill Gardens before departing for Dublin.
Check into our Dublin hotel before a late afternoon visit to Shirley Beatty’s garden in Blackrock. No 18 is a Regency villa, built in the 1830s, which provides the perfect backdrop for a small rear garden, extending to 30 m. Current planting started in 2009 and the garden now consists of herbaceous borders, leading through, under an archway, to a small vegetable garden and plant area. The borders are filled with a wide selection of rare and unusual plants, which Shirley has collected over her 50 years gardening experience and travels. The challenge is to include, in what is a confined space, a range of plants, which will provide interest and colour throughout the year. Return to Dublin hotel for Dinner & Overnight.
Day 6: Helen Dillon Gardens, Powerscourt House & Gardens and Mount Usher
First visit to Helen Dillon’s great garden. Helen Dillon is the undisputed queen of Irish gardening. Her acre of town garden in the elegant Ranelagh district of Dublin has become the most photographed garden in Ireland – seen both in magazines and in the many books she has written – and she is known for her relaxed, sometimes unorthodox style of gardening and her spirited views. Helen is the kind of person who absolutely hates being categorised – she won’t be pinned down to a particular style or approach, and confesses that her tastes are constantly changing. In her view, gardening should be an entirely intuitive process. ‘Creative things happen when you’re not thinking about something; you’re just playing,’ she says. ‘The best gardening happens when you’ve done all the things you intended to do, and you’re just walking about letting your mind run free.’
Travel to Powerscourt, Wicklow (aka The garden of Irelnad). Visit Powerscourt Gardens – one of the most beautiful gardens in Ireland! The gardens at Powerscourt were laid out over two main periods. Many of the people involved in their creation and development never saw the gardens completed in their lifetime. When the house was rebuilt in the decade after 1731, the surrounding grounds were also remodelled. The design reflected the desire to create a garden which was part of the wider landscape. And what a view it is! To the North formal tree plantations framed the vista from the house, while a walled garden, fish pond, cascades, grottos and terraces lay to the South. Walks wound through the wooded grounds and a fine tree lined avenue was created. When you arrive at the tree lined avenue today, hundreds of beech trees will guide your visit.
Lunch at Mount Usher/ Avoca restaurant. Mount Usher – is among Ireland’s most loved gardens, by both professionals and the wider public. The gardens were first planted in 1868 in the Robinsonian style, after the Irish garden designer William Robinson, who emphasised informal planting in harmony with the natural setting of the garden.
Return to Dublin for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Dublin City Tour & Straffan
We depart our hotel for a half day tour of Dublin. We will visit Trinity College to see the magnificent Old Library and the 1200 year old Book of Kells, the beautifully illuminated version of the Gospels, designed by monks in the 9th century. We continue on to the National Museum, housing a rich collection of Irish antiquities from the prehistoric times to the end of the medieval period. This afternoon we will visit St. Patricks Cathedral. Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptised converts on his visit to Dublin.
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure in Dublin.
In the late afternoon, depart hotel for dinner in Lodge Park, Straffan, Co Kildare which is home of Robert and Sarah Guinness. We will start with a tour of the walled gardens followed by dinner.
Return to hotel for overnight.
Day 8: Carmel Duignan’s Garden, Rathmichael Lodge, Corke Lodge
Our first visit this morning is to Carmel Duignan’s garden. Carmel is an alpinist and the garden is small and filled with delightful and most unusual plantings. Carmel Duignan, a gardening writer and former television producer, has created a beautiful garden in the mild, maritime climate of south-east County Dublin. A self-confessed plantaholic, she has amassed an extraordinary collection of plants – from old, familiar favourites to plants that are on the cutting edge of tenderness, rarity and current fashion. Old and new have been plaited together with flair and artistry and the resulting combinations of colour, shape and texture produce pleasing and innovative compositions throughout the garden. Of particular interest are the small-flowered clematis and a good range of Pseudopanax. From the plant collector, who craves the new, the hard-to-grow, or hard-to-find, to the gardener who simply appreciates the beauty of growing things, this garden offers interest and enjoyment.
We arrive at Rathmichael Lodge for garden & light lunch. Home of Corinne & Richard Hewat.
Rathmichael Lodge, a charming rambling house, situated between the mountains and the sea, has an enchanting 2.5ha old-world garden. It reflects the characters of Corinne and Richard Hewat and exudes atmosphere, fragrance and colour due, in part, to the over one hundred roses that grow there. Old roses and modern hybrids, climbers and shrubs – they revel in the benign climate of this garden and they proliferate on walls, through apple trees, around an ancient orchard and mingle in abundant borders with other rare and interesting plants. A particularly inspiring sight is Rosa ‘Parade’ growing on the back wall of the ochre- coloured house. Paths lead through the colourful borders to a vegetable garden, tennis court and up a hazel walk to a pavilion in a tranquil meadow, guarded by an ever-present resident fox!
Return to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Depart Dublin
Slán agus Beannacht (Good bye and blessings), have a safe journey home.