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Blarney Castle and Gardens, Cork

peter donegan, adam whitbourn, paul osullivan,

Pictured above Peter Donegan [Donegan Landscaping] with Adam Whitbourn [Head Gardener] and Paul O’Sullivan [Media and Advertising Manager] at Blarney Castle and Gardens.

I had met Adam Whitbourn some time ago at Clare Garden Festival where I was speaking earlier this year and whilst our paths had crossed since, last week I decided to make the journey to Cork and was honoured that Paul and Adam, two real gents I should add, both made themselves available to personally guide me through the estate.

We met up last Thursday. I was on my holidays. In Tipperary. Camping. In Con Traas’s Apple Farm. Because where else did you expect this horticulturist to go on vocation vacation. I’ll get to that later…

My passion for plants aside, something really very good has happened at Blarney Castle and Gardens and a day spent there is something that I can not recommend highly enough. The grounds are quite easily nothing short of stunning, majestic, genius, quite brilliant and a fine example of just how it should be done.

In the disclaimer department, I didn’t have to pay through the gate. That was as it usually is with me and gardens, just a quick phone call.

For you who maybe haven’t visited since your school trip when you were 12 years old or, to you who are thinking of coming from abroad, you should go. You will thank me for it. And when you do, the following and the images below might just make your time there that little bit sweeter.


Outside of the castle itself, the estate boasts 60 acres of pristine gardens looked after by a team of 8 full-time gardeners. And whilst Paul suggests you allow about 3 hours to see the entire grounds, I will happily recommend you take a lot longer. Also of note Blarney Castle and Gardens had 365,000 visitors pass through its gates for the year 2013 and that number is increasing year on year.

Gardens in mind, if you are heading there the very stunning grounds are self guided and Blarney Castle do not do garden tours. Self guides in mind, I asked Head Gardener Adam and Paul who has worked there for almost 10 years, the following which you may find of interest:

Adam’s top 5 [he gave 6] romantic places to bring the love of your life:

  • the Lake Shore
  • Top of the castle
  • fern garden
  • the druids circle
  • the rock close
  • and the arboretum

Adam also notes:

  • his favourite part of the garden – The Fern Garden
  • Oldest tree – Taxus bacata by the lower rock close around 600 years old
  • Most photographed tree – Thuja plicata, western red cedar
  • Favourite area of newly planted trees – the pinetum with over 200 rare and unusual different conifer species

Paul’s top 5 places – excluding the castle:

  • The Rock Close
  • The Fern Garden
  • The caves and the dungeons
  • The Poisonous Garden
  • the walk around the lake

The Sodshow is due to air a 2 part Blarney Castle special in the next weeks which I will embed here after.

Ticket prices range from zero [children under 8] to 12 euro, the car park is free and there are family tickets available.


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