The cheer of the crowd and pounding of hooves in the final furlong is hard to imagine in the peaceful pastures of the Irish National Stud & Gardens. But the home of Irish horseracing past, present and future offers a window into the high stakes world of International horse breeding and the work of a modern stud farm at Tully, County Kildare.
Irish National Stud
The third largest breeder of horses in the world, the Irish National Stud a key player in this major International industry and a first-class producer of champion thoroughbred horses. The nine triumphant stallions of course take centre stage, their lineage revered by the breeders of the mares they take here in the hopes of producing the stars of the future, the young foals grazing in the lush green fields.
A guided walk of this 100 year old enterprise gives a fascinating insight into the workings, history and vast complexities (and expense!) of horse breeding today, with some curious tales of the turf and of the stud farm’s founder Colonel William Hall. After touring the stables, time in the Horse Museum is definitely on the cards, where homage is paid to iconic victors of the past and the legacy and legends of Ireland’s equine superstars is brought to the fore through related memorabilia, artefacts and a moving audio visual presentation. Most prominently displayed is the skeleton of Arkle, a three time winner of jumping’s ultimate prize, the Cheltenham Gold Cup who remains to this day the greatest steeplechaser to have ever lived.
Life is a flower in the Japanese Gardens
From horses to horticulture, it’s the Japanese Gardens. Also on the site of the National Stud, this picturesque mix of eastern and western cultures was devised in 1906 by Japanese master horticulturalist Tassa Eida. Laid out to illustrate the ‘Life of Man’ with all of its experiences, fragilities and milestones, the tranquil backdrop, vivid colours, tree shaded paths and flourishing mature trees tell the story of life from beginning to end. Focus your mind as you follow the meandering paths and the stone crossings of steams to the tranquil bridge of life, then take time to reflect in the calmness of the tea house.
St. Fiachra’s Garden, a tribute to a saint and the landscape of Ireland
A celebration of Ireland and its natural beauty, St. Fiachra’s Garden was designed in 1999 drawing inspiration from the Irish landscape through the extensive use of rock and water. In commemoration of St. Fiachra the patron saint of gardeners, it attempts to capture the elements that form and cover the natural beauty of the Emerald Isle with deference to the early monastic settlers’ use of limestone, all set against 4 acres of woodland, waterfalls, streams and lakeside views.
From start to the finish, the Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens are a mingling of tranquillity, industry and harmony and well worth your time while travelling in Ireland. We bet you’ll love it!