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Please check with garden owners or their website to confirm current dates open
All year, except Christmas Day:
1st Apr - 30th Oct; daily ; 9am - 6pm
1st Nov - 31st Mar; Daily; 9am - 5pm
All Year, except Christmas Holidays (24th Dec- 2nd Jan incl):
Mon-Thur; 9am-4.45pm, Fri; 9am-3.45pm,
April - Sept incl; Saturday 11am-5pm, Sunday 2-5pm;
Bank Holiday Mondays: 2-5pm
For vehicles & pedestrians: Open all year at above times.
Guided tours by prior arrangement Mon - Fri, a charge is made.
www.fotahouse.com for details
Mar - Oct
Spring flowers, magnolias, camellias, bulbs. Summer roses Autumn colours Many examples of fine specimen trees.
Arboretum & Gardens: Free
Light Refreshments are provided by Fota House (run independently by Irish Heritage Trust (IHT)). Parking €3.00
Located in the sheltered harbour of Cork, the 27-acre Fota Arboretum and Gardens are of international importance, containing one of the finest collections of rare and tender trees and shrubs grown outdoors in Ireland and Britain. In addition to the large number of exotic and tender trees and plants, Fota contains many hardy specimens, although this was not known at the time of their introduction. James Hugh Smith-Barry laid out the Arboretum with generous spacing as in parkland so that the trees have been able to reach their full potential. An exceptional collection of 130 species of conifers from 26 genera contains some of the finest specimens of Pine, Cypress and Sequoia to be found in Europe. There is also a good collection of broadleaf trees including Acers, Nothofagus, Ilex, Eucalyptus, Magnolia and Acacia and rare shrubs, such as Pieris, Enkianthus, Rhododendron, Camellia, Myrtus and Viburnum which have thrived in the mild climate.
The Victorian Fernery contains many fine specimens, especially the Tasmanian Tree Ferns planted in the late 1800's. The Walled gardens contain an exceptional rose collection and the walls display a large variety of climbers collected with the assistance of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin from the warm temperate regions of the world. The walled Pleasure Gardens near Fota House contain many formal features that have been restored such as yew hedges, a sunken Italian garden, a classical summerhouse and herbaceous borders.
About 150 metres from the House is the fully restored Orangery, with its magnificent glass roof, dating from the mid-19th century.
Fota Island, 316 ha in area and about 12km east of Cork City was originally owned by the Smith-Barry family, first records of which date from soon after the Norman Conquest when their ancestor Philip de Barri was granted lands in South Cork by Henry II. A manor was established at Barryscourt and the family seat became Barryscourt Castle, a 15th century fortified house 3km from Fota. The Smith-Barry family decided to enlarge the hunting lodge on Fota Island in the early 19th century and Sir Richard Morrison, one of Ireland's foremost architects, transformed it into a splendid example of Regency architecture containing some of the finest neo-classical interiors found in Ireland.
The favourable Gulf Stream-influenced climate, favouring the growth of tender plants, was recognised in the early 19th century and successive generations of the Smith-Barry family laid out and developed the gardens and introduced many exotic species from plant collectors working in Asia, Australasia, and North and South America. After the death of the last resident member of the family, Hon. Mrs Bell in 1975, the gardens were acquired by University College, Cork, who considerably extended the Arboretum. After fifteen years they sold the estate to a development company, but subsequently the Arboretum & Gardens, along with the House, were leased to Fota Trust. In 1996 the Arboretum & Gardens were transferred to state ownership and came under the care and management of Duchas - The Heritage Service. Duchas continued the policy of planting exotic trees and shrubs for many years until the property was transferred to the Office of Public Works (OPW).