Operated by the Irish National Parks & Wildlife service, Coole park is a protected nature reserve of near 1,000 acres. The park was formerly the estate of the Gregory family. Features of the park include turloughs or seasonal lakes, extensive woodlands, an 18th century walled garden (hosting an ‘autograph tree’ which has initials engraved of famous literacy figures) and 6 km’s of signposted nature trails. A visitor centre is also located within the park, in former 18th century outbuildings offering a tea room, an audio/visual presentation on Lady Gregory and the literary history of Coole Park during summer months.
Merlin Park Woodland
An urban woodland located on the eastern edge of Galway city, Merlin Woods is a haven for wildlife and leisurely walks. It is the largest area of woodland around Galway City and was originally part of the Waithman estate whom planted many trees during the period when they owned the 340 acre estate. The park features many different types of trees, flowers, wildlife, Merlin Castle ruins and a network of paths running through the woods.
Rinville Park is a picturesque woodland park situated near the shores of Galway Bay and the village of Oranmore. The park features many amenities such as Rinville Castle ruins dated from the 16th century, an extensive network of walks through the woodlands along with open air workout equipment, wild flora and fauna and interesting wildlife. There are numerous picnic areas throughout the park along with a children’s playground.
Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park, managed by the National Parks and Wildlife service, is one of six national parks in Ireland. The park was opened to the public in 1980 and features 2,957 hectares of mountains, bogland, heaths, grasslands and forests. There is also history within the park with a 19th-century graveyard as well as 4,000-year-old megalithic court tombs. There are numerous types of interesting flora throughout the park adding plenty of colour, while wildlife is also popular throughout the park. You will also find picnic areas, a children’s playground, tea room, an exhibition and audio visual on Connemara’s landscape and Connemara ponies, along with numerous activities to part take in such as guided natures walks.
Knockma Forest Park
Knockma Forest Park offers a beautiful hillside circular walk through a woodland filled with fairy folklore and legend. A top of the summit of the hill are two Cairns believed to be the burial grounds of Queen Medb of Connacht and of the fairy king Finvarra. The park features numerous benches to relax and rest throughout the walk, along with interesting flora of spring gentian and purple helleborine usually found in the famous Burren region of county Clare.
Located a short distance from Galway city, Barna Woods is a broadleaf woodland park which claims to have the last natural growing oaks in the west of Ireland. There are numerous different types of flora and fauna to be found throughout the park along with a network of paths throughout the woods making the park a great area for a leisurely walk amongst nature.
Situated in the Claddagh area of Galway city, South Park (referred locally as ‘The Swamp’), is an excellent starting point for a longer walk of the famous Salthill promenade. Its closeness to Nimmo’s Pier also allows for pleasant harbour views and numerous swans swimming about. Other features in the park include; a Gaelic playing pitch, a Rugby pitch, two Soccer pitches, a playground and several benches to relax and areas of planted flowers, shrubs and trees.
Portumna Forest Park
Portumna Forest Park offers numerous waymarked looped walks and cycle trails through beautiful woodlands and along the northern shore of Lough Derg. The park features other facilities such as map boards, picnic tables, toilets and car parking. The trees throughout the park are mainly coniferous but also contains a wide variety of broadleaf trees. There are numerous different types of interesting flora and fauna to be seen throughout the park also. If lucky, you may be greeted with the sight of fallow deer.
Monivea Woods provides lovely recreational walks through forest paths. The woodland area is well know for both it’s unique flora and historic archaeology throughout the park. The woodland area was part of the Ffrench estate which was handed over to the public in 1938 by Lady Kathleen Ffrench. The mausoleum which exists in the woodland, containing the remains of Robert and Kathleen Ffrench, was left in the care of the Catholic Church. There are two looped trails of 1.5km’s & 1.3km’s. The forest park also features a historic 17th century ‘Ice House’ which was part of Ffrench Castle.
Ardnageeha (Ard na Gaoithe) Woodland
Located a short distance from Cong, Ardnageeha or ‘Ard na Gaoithe’ as it’s otherwise known, is a woodland area which features a network of forest paths which also run along the shores of lough Corrib. There are trails of over 4km’s in length throughout. The park also features picnic areas and benches to sit and relax. For those daring enough, there are some suitable swimming areas of the lake along the trails. There are numerous interesting flora and fauna to been seen throughout the woodland area, making it a great place to learn and explore for the little ones.
Mountbellew Woodland is part of the Mountbellew Demesne which is just a short distance from the village. The forest park has numerous facilities to include; historic buildings such as a museum containing local artifacts, a tug boat, a herd’s house and a flour mill, a network of forest walks suitable for recreational activities (approx. 5km total distance) and a picnic site. There are several different tree species to be seen and interesting flora and fauna. If you are lucky enough you may be treated to a sighting of Sika deer which roam the walled garden ruins of the forest park.
Clonbur woodland provides a loop walk which goes through a the beautiful woodland area featuring a mixture of tree species from beech to hazel to scots pine and more. On the trail there are some great views of Lough Mask along with remains of a shooting lodge and Clonbur river and turloughs. Not far from the trail are also the remains of Ballykine Castle.
Located between the picturesque village of Cong and the stunning Ashford Castle grounds, Cong woodland offers beautiful walks in the wilderness with plenty of history along the way. There are numerous pine seats placed along the walk offering places to rest, relax and take in the views (or do a spot of fishing!). There are walks of almost 2km’s throughout with different types of tree species to be seen and plenty of interesting flora and fauna, making it a perfect place for kids to explore.
Near the village of Clarinbridge, Kilcornan woodland was previously part of the Reddington Estate. There are ruins of a church and a monument to be seen throughout the woodland along with a network of forest trails adding up to approx. 8km’s in length in total. There are plenty of different types of flora, fauna and tree species to be seen along the trails.
Zetland Country House Hotel and Gardens
Zetland Country House Hotel, located in Cashel Bay, is home to beautiful mature gardens which provide an oasis of tranquility and exotic flora throughout. The hotel is set amid the beautiful backdrop of rugged mountains, bogland, lakes and sea coast adding to the beauty of the gardens. The gardens sweep down to the Atlantic Ocean, making for stunning photos.
Rosleague Manor and Gardens
Resting on the quiet shores of Ballinakill Bay, Rosleague Manor hotel is home to 12 hectares of its own private woodland offering a peaceful woodland trail which lead to Atlantic shores. The manor also features stunning gardens which provide a wonderful display of hydrangeas when in season.
Pallas Walled Garden
The Pallas Walled Garden is part of the old Pallas House, built in 18th century. The walled garden is unfortunately no longer in use. The sheer size of the garden gives a sense of importance of the old Pallas estate. Although the Pallas House was destroyed after World War II, the garden still compliments the ruins of the Pallas Castle, a 15th century tower house.
Daly’s Grove Walled Garden
Daly’s Grove Walled Garden was built in 1830, and is currently in use as part of farmland. Throughout the walled garden there are remnants of features which once would have existed in the garden such as the garden room. The walled garden provides a reminder of the horticultural tradition that was once associated to old country houses. The garden would have been used to provide vegetables, fruit and flowers for the house.
Circle of Life Commemorative Garden
The Circle of Life Commemorative Garden is situated adjacent to the beautiful Salthill seafront, in the Quincentennial Park. The garden commemorates organ donors and reflects on the spirit of giving. It provides a space to contemplate in tranquil surrounds and give thanks. The name, ‘Circle of Life’, derives from five 2 metre tall stones which make up the garden’s centre, each carved with an inscription which symbolises the connectivity and interdependence of people through each stage of their life. The garden is a fully voluntarily funded project.
Kylemore Abbey Victorian Walled Garden
The Victorian Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey, provides an oasis of beautiful tranquil surrounds in the wild Connemara Countryside. The garden was developed along with Kylemore Castle in the late 1800’s where it once would have been home to 21 heated glass houses and a work force of 40 gardeners. The garden was believe to have been so far ahead of it’s time that it was compared in magnificence with Kew Gardens in London. In 1995, the Benedictine nuns started to restore what had become an overgrown and derelict garden. The garden is approx 6 acres in size and is divided in two by a lovely mountain stream. The east half of the garden includes a formal flower garden, glass houses, the head gardener’s house and the garden bothy. The west half of the garden contains a vegetable garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, a rockery and a herb garden. The garden provides beautiful walks in a tranquil and exotic setting, a perfect way to spend some time.
Saint Martin’s Walled Garden
Saint Martin’s Walled Garden was constructed in 1770 and consists of a series of courtyards and arcaded elements with a promenade, cascade of steps and fanciful outbuildings and turrets makes it one of the most interesting and unusual architectural ensembles in the county. It shows that the gardening history of the area was highly influential in it’s day. Unfortunately it is no longer in use.
The Woodville House Walled Garden is an 18th century garden which has been beautifully restored and contains colourful herbaceous borders, fruit trees, rose & vegetable gardens and a serene water fountain. Another unusual feature of the garden is a surviving dovecote, which is one for the few remaining in the west of Ireland. There is an exhibition of the history of Woodville and surrounding locations in the adjoining stables building. The museum also has old photos of various members’ of the Persse family (previous owners of the estate) on display and various letters & books belonging to the family including one signed by Lady Augusta Gregory, dated 1898.
Burren Nature Sanctuary
The Burren Nature Sanctuary is an interpretive centre for the natural history of the Burren. The sanctuary is situated on a 50 acre organic farm and features unique elements that make the Burren region unique such as shattered limestone, ancient woodland and a rare disappearing lake. The sanctuary is also home to numerous wildflowers and orchids. There is a beautiful nature trail mapped out which brings you through meadows, forest and over the unique Burren landscape. Farm animals and a quaint cafe offering local artisan food on the sanctuary are sure to keep everyone of all ages occupied.
Cashel House Hotel and Gardens
The gardens at Cashel House Hotel provide an oasis of extraordinary beauty and a place of meditation and relaxation. The gardens offer enchanting cultivation’s of exotic flowers to include rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and the rare beautiful magnolias. There is also a planted herb garden which rely on organic fertilizer to stimulate growth. The hotel provides guided tours of the gardens or you can stroll through them at your leisure, with benches conveniently located throughout to sit and admire the beauty.