Emerging out of the woodland, one encounters the first view of Ardgillan Castle as the grounds roll down to it and beyond to the Irish Sea, 20 miles north of Dublin city. When the skies are clear, just visible are the Mourne mountains, across the bay, as they “sweep down to the sea”.
Of course it isn’t a Castle at all, but a rather comfortable country house with towers and battlements, the home of the Taylor family for 200 years, until purchased by Dublin County Council in 1982. The name Ardgillan is derived from the Irish Ard Choill meaning High Wood. Of course, Castles usually have the requisite ghost and the footbridge over the main road leading to the grounds is known as The Lady’s Stairs, due to the apparition of a ghostly lady there from time to time.
194 acres of wild woodlands, walled gardens,an impressive herbaceous border backing on to an old stone wall and a lovely Rose Garden ablaze with colour in high summer.
In Spring, there is plenty to entice too – the scent of hyacinths and blossom, colourful tulips, beds of polyanthus, and purple aubretia climbing over old walls.
Rose Gardens can look a little forlorn in springtime,
… but worth the wait when Summer arrives.
There is a fine collection of roses, climbers, floribunda, hybrid tea, with old varieties around the perimeter – a good opportunity to note the best looking and best scented. This is all backed by an impressive Victorian Conservatory, currently undergoing renovation; it was originally built at Seamount, the home of the Jameson family of whiskey fame, in 1880, but was donated and brought to Ardgillan in the 1990s.
Some good-looking roses when I visited were the very fragrant, velvety red hybid tea “Deep Secret”, the pink deeply cut blooms of “Abraham Darby”, a David Austin rose, and the apricot blooms of “Fragrant Dream” lived up to its name.
There is a wonderfully long herbaceous border, backing on to the old stone walls, along the Yew Tree Walk, brimful of Acanthus, Achillea, lilies, Penstemons, and so on.
And inside the Castle is a Tea room, with seating in the old rooms, or on a fine day on the terrace outside.
Tours can be arranged of the interior rooms, and Events are held both in the house and outside in the grounds.
Earlier in the year, I attended a local Spring Flower Show.
Tonight, 1st August, Shakespeare will be featured in the walled garden.
It’s an ideal family venue too, with acres of grounds to roam and a large fun Children’s playground.
Walled gardens, roses, ghosts and a Castle, summer sun and sea views… have I whetted you appetite?
Entrance to the grounds is free!