National Stud and Japanese Gardens, County Kildare
The world renowned National Stud is home to some of Ireland's finest thoroughbreds. Located only an hour from Dublin in Tully, County Kildare, this one thousand acre farm has been in use as a stud farm since 1900. A major tourist attraction, the stud also boasts the Japanese Gardens, a Horse Museum, Saint Fiachra's Garden and a Visitor Centre.
Established in 1946, the Irish National Stud combines an active role in the development and promotion of Irish bloodstock with its role as one of the country's major tourist attractions and it is the only Stud farm in Ireland open to the public.
Japanese Gardens - The Japanese Gardens at Tully were created between the years 1906-1910. Devised by Colonel William Hall-Walker (later Lord Wavertree), a wealthy Scotsman of a famous brewery family and laid out by the Japanese Eida and his son Minoru. The significance of the Japanese Gardens which were planned to symbolize "Life of Man" is not only artistic and horticultural but also philosophical, religious and historical. Now of international renown and acclaimed as the finest Japanese Gardens in Europe, they are a living monument to the meeting of Eastern and Western cultures in a Western setting.
Saint Fiachra's Garden - In 1999 the Irish National Stud created a commemorative garden to St. Fiachra, Patron Saint of Gardeners, to celebrate the Millennium. It was designed by Professor Martin Hallinan, award winning landscape architect. He created a garden which presents visitors with a similar natural environment to that which inspired the spirituality of the monastic movement in Ireland during the 6th and 7th Centuries. The garden is within a natural setting of woodlands, wetlands, lakes and islands. It features monastic cells of fissured limestone surrounded by water. The inner subterranean garden, which lies within the main monastic cell is of Waterford Crystal shaped rocks and plants such as ferns and orchids, is lit by fibre optics.
Horse Museum - The Museum is a state of the art modern exhibition where the Sport of Kings comes to life. When you step into this state of the art exhibition area it's hard to believe that the building was once the home of a groom and was later converted to stallion boxes to house such famous horses as Tulyar and Royal Charger. The exhibition tells the story of man and horse uniting for sporting competition. More specifically, the story is of Ireland's long love affair with horse racing, and horse racing's love affair with Ireland.
There is a gift shop in the Visitor's Centre, where you can purchase items of clothing with The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens logo, which cannot be found anywhere else in the World, as well as other items, like Waterford Crystal, Newbridge Cutlery and many more. There are plenty of toilets, including one for the disabled, and also "a baby changing room". There is a restaurant, self-service, where you can have a light lunch, morning coffee or afternoon tea.
There are usually Guided Tours of the National Stud each day. Enquire at Reception for times. The tour lasts about 35 minutes and you should allow another 45 minutes to see the Museum, and take a walk down the Tully Walk to see any mares and foals that might be out. In the main yard there is a video showing "The Birth of a Foal". It lasts about 10 minutes and was actually made on the Stud. There are picnic tables in the car park which are very popular in the summer months.
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