Lauragh, Kenmare, Co. Kerry V93D792
One of Ireland’s oldest and most established gardens, Derreen in Lauragh is regarded as one of the ten best gardens in ireland and is a haven for plant enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Garden: Open all year round from 10am – 6pm
Admission: €9 per adult, €4 per child
€25 family ticket – 2 adults and all accompanying children under 18.
Season tickets available from €35. Group bookings in advance.
Garden Café and Shop:
Open every day from Easter to September
Covering more than 60 acres, the garden has over 12km of paths, which wind through mature and varied woodland to reveal wonderful views over Kilmakilloge Harbour, the Caha Mountains and the distant McGillicuddy’s Reeks. The garden is full of rare and exotic plants, many of which were brought back from Victorian plant hunting expeditions in the Himalayas and elsewhere. Derreen is particularly known for its collection of rhododendrons, many of which have grown to a size seldom seen elsewhere. The labyrinth of narrow mossy paths weaves through groves of bamboo, towering eucalyptus, tree ferns and conifers, all thriving in the mild, damp climate.
There are a number of suggested walks in the garden taking from 30 minutes to an hour, although it is easy to get drawn into exploring and many visitors will spend a few hours enjoying the tranquility and wonderful setting of the garden.
The garden is also a haven for wildlife with Sika deer, Irish hares and the occasional red squirrel all making an appearance. Seals can often be seen from the shore and there have been sightings of both otters and Kerry’s rarest mammal, the pine martin. By the shore there is an abundance of bird life, including cormorants, oystercatchers and gulls. Great northern divers and guillemots pass through in the Spring and more recently sea eagles have been introduced to the area, meaning you might be lucky enough to witness these magnificent birds.
The Garden Café has plenty of outdoor seating and offers lunch, as well as tea and coffee and a wide variety of home-baked cakes to refresh yourself before or after a garden walk.
Twenty little Derreeny Houses, dotted throughout the garden, offer a delightful experience for children of all ages. Derreenies are tiny creatures, much rarer than fairies, and the last known sighting was in 1855. However, in 2012 some clearing was done along the walks and these very small houses were discovered. All the houses are vacant but look like they have recently been lived in. Can you spot one?