Tullynally Castle Gardens
Just 2km from Castlepollard village, Tullynally Castle’s majestic presence dominates a breathtaking landscape, where you can enjoy 12 acres of beautifully restored 18th Century gardens, with terraced lawns, remarkable mature trees walled flower gardens and ornamental lakes.
The Castle itself was built by the Pakenhams (later Earls of Longford) around the year 1650 and three generations still live in this huge rambling Gothic Revival castle today. The history of how these gardens developed is particularly interesting, and reflects the relevant periods of Irish History and the fortunes and fables of the Lords and Ladies who have resided at this estate.
In 1740, when the Castle was enlarged following an upturn in the family fortune, the old formal gardens were swept away as part of the fashion for a romantic “natural” landscape and were replaced by a “wilderness” or a Pleasure Ground planted west of the house leading to a large walled Kitchen Garden and two ornamental lakes.
A famous account of the gardens in 1830 said “I never saw in England and Ireland such beautiful gardens and shrubbery walks as she has made. In a place where there was only a swamp and an osiery, she has made the most beautiful American garden my eyes ever beheld – took advantage of a group of superb old chestnut trees, oak and ash for a background – trees that had never been noticed before in that terra incognita and now it is a fairy land.”
You can still see most of the trees that framed this “fairyland ” in the Forest Walk. The present owner, Thomas Pakenham inherited the estate in 1961 at the death of his uncle, the 6th Earl of Longford (who many Dubliners still remember for his work at the Gate Theatre.) Thomas, after producing three large history books (The Year of Liberty, The Boer War and The Scramble for Africa - all still in print) turned to writing about trees – starting with Meetings with Remarkable Trees in 1993 - and has become a passionate gardener. In recent years, he has brought back seeds from plant-hunting trips to China, Tibet and Sikkim in Northern India. His most recently planting has been a collection of rare magnolias at the far end of the Upper Lake. Valerie, his wife, does most of her gardening in the walled gardens and castle courtyards. She has written 2 historical anthologies, The Traveller's Companion to Dublin and The Big House in Ireland.
The name Tullynally means the Hill of the Swan, and from the grotto in the gardens you can view the beautiful Lough Derravaragh, the legendary lake where the Children of Lir were turned into swans.
Guided tours of the Castle in its grandeur are available to groups, along with the early Victorian kitchens and laundries with a fascinating insight into this period of Irish history. There is also a delightful tearoom in the castle courtyard and the splendid family coach on display.