One of the very best places to visit in Ireland is the race horse stud farm owned by the nation and operated privately, thus it’s interesting name: the Irish National Stud. Begun in 1896 by William Hall Walker this beautiful horse farm also includes an authentic Japanese garden which has often been called the best garden of its kind in Europe. Mr. Walker (later he was made Lord Wavertree) had two great interests, horse racing and Eastern culture. He combined them in this wonderful farm and park that he bequeathed to the nation of Ireland.
Today race horse breeding is a profitable business. On our guided tour we learned that one stallion alone generates about than six million euros a year in stud fees. His name is Invincible Spirit and he’s a true winner. A number of other male horses are owned by the breeders who control the farm. Mares are brought to the farm and remain there until their foals are born. We enjoyed watching the new mothers and their babies in paddocks.
The Japanese garden was created by a man brought from Japan by Mr. Walker. It is an intricate representation of one lifetime. Visitors follow the elaborate trail from “birth” to the end of life by climbing up “mountains,” passing through “caves” and crossing “streams” on stepping stones. The plants in the garden are meticulously maintained.
There is also a large Irish-style garden centered around a pond and man-made waterfall.
You can read much more about this fascinating place on their website by clicking here. If you’re planning a trip to Ireland this is one “off the beaten trail” site you should make a point of visiting.