The Glenveagh gardens were reclaimed from the wilderness of bog and scrub that account for the rest of this vast Donegal estate. Tamed into submission the formal gardens were initially laid out by wealthy heiress Cornelia Adair who had a keen interest in gardening. Lucy Kingsley Porters who enjoyed a brief tenure at Glenveagh will always be remembered for having introduced the ‘Matt Armour’ single red Dahlia which was bred there by a young gardener of the same name and continues to thrive there till this day. Several notable garden consultants were engaged by successive owners to improve and add to the gardens including James Russell a renowned english nurseryman and Lanning Roper who designed several other gardens around Ireland at the time.
Pleasure grounds were introduced and exotic and native tree species were planted including the invasive rhododendron ponticum and bamboo as was the fashion at the time. The formal layout of Victorian vegetable garden with its clipped box and topiary survives today as a showcase in horticultural expertise. A team of seven gardeners maintain the Tuscan garden, rose garden and view garden and tree lined walks in the same style and manner of the original designs. A special tree trail is available to follow and identify the various species. Or for the lazy, one can simply relax with a coffee from the tearooms and marvel at the contrast of beauties between the wild rugged wilderness of the park and the sheltered formality of the gardens.
10 Other things to do and see in Donegal....
1 Slieve League Bunglas, County Donegal take a spectacular cliff top walk along some of the highest cliffs on the western seaboard of Europe.
2 Smugglers Creek stay at this great B&B near Rossnowlagh and have dinner in the conservatory with one of the best views in Ireland, if not the world.
3 Rossnowlagh gallop a horse the lenght of this great beach.
4 Donegal Castle seat of Red Hugh O’Donnell an Irish chieftain made famous by Walt Disney in the 1966 film 'The Fighting Prince of Donegal'.
5 Blue Stacks take a hike out into the mountains but be warned they seem to have a weather system of their own.
6 Magee's have dressed the best including our own Pierce Brosnan, aka James Bond. Learn how tweed fabric has been woven here for over 140 years at their shop in the Diamond, Donegal town.
7 Arranmore or Tory visit these offshore Islands, pocket gaeltachts or Irish speaking areas, wild, remote and ruggedly beautiful.
8 Fanad or Inishowen explore either of these peninsulas for stunning scenery and deserted white beaches and if you are very lucky some fine weather.
9 Glebe House & Gallery visit the former home of artist Derek Hill, Letterkenny who kindly the house and gallery along with his art collection to the nation in 1980.
10 Portsalon play around of golf at the championship links here overlooking Ballymastocker Bay once voted the second most beautiful beach in the world.