VIDEO: See historic Cork garden in all its glory

ONE of Ireland’s most stunning gardens is finally open to the public, after an extensive conservation and restoration project carried out over the past seven years by the Office of Public Works (OPW), writes DAVID FORSYTHE.
VIDEO: See historic Cork garden in all its glory

Annes Grove House & Gardens, in North Cork following extensive restoration works by the OPW.

Annes Grove Gardens, near Castletownroche, was the historic home of the Grove Annesley family, who gifted the house and gardens to the OPW in 2015. After years of hard work, the stunning North Cork property was officially opened to the public by Minister of State with the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan.

Supporters of the project from across Cork and beyond gathered to celebrate the event and The Echo was also in attendance to gain a sneak peek of what visitors can expect over the coming months.

Jane O’Dwyer, of the OPW management team at Annes Grove, said: “This is an internationally significant historic garden. The main part of it was actually developed in the early 20th century. 

"Richard Grove Annesley collaborated with many different garden sites throughout Ireland and the UK to fund expeditions to other parts of the world to bring back plants that they could plant here in Ireland.”

Jane said that, due to the unique climate in Cork, many varied species of plants from around the world can grow and thrive at Annes Grove.

“The Grove Annesley family looked after the historic gardens for centuries here until they generously donated the entire gardens, the historic grounds, and the house to the Office of Public Works in December, 2015,” said Jane.

“Since that time, the OPW has undergone a massive restoration and conservation programme here. The gardening team has been putting in a lot of work in terms of conserving and restoring different parts of the garden.”

Rosemary Collier, OPW; Maurice Buckley, Chairman, OPW, and Patrick O’Donovan T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), at the opening of the picturesque Annes Grove Gardens in North Cork following extensive restoration works by the OPW.
Rosemary Collier, OPW; Maurice Buckley, Chairman, OPW, and Patrick O’Donovan T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), at the opening of the picturesque Annes Grove Gardens in North Cork following extensive restoration works by the OPW.

Jane said that because the gardens are still under conservation and restoration works, some parts are not yet finished, and they hope that visitors will return multiple times over the years to see the changes throughout the gardens.

She added: “At the moment, the Office of Public Works is working on submitting a planning application to Cork County Council in order to develop the buildings here for a visitor attraction into the future. This will be done in multiple phases throughout the years.

“We hope to open the house here as an exhibition site on the history of plant collection and historic gardens in Ireland, particularly the connection to Annes Grove Gardens and other historic gardens within Ireland.”

Speaking to The Echo at the opening, Minister of State for the OPW Patrick O’Donovan said: “It’s a very special occasion in terms of the historic nature of the gardens, but we know that with the experience we have, for instance in Doneraile, we estimate that this will really enhance the tourism offering in this part of north and east Cork.

“It’s a very special day for the local community, a very special day for the family, but it’s also a really special day for everybody in OPW that has worked to bring what you can see today, a magnificent product brought to fruition and opening it up to the community, not only here in north and east Cork, but to the wider Irish nation, and to people we hope will visit from home and abroad to experience what really is a magnificent place to come and visit.”

The gardens will be accessible by paid guided tour only from April 8 to September 22. Visitors can learn more about the history of the estate and Grove Annesley family, of the garden itself, and the philosophy behind its design, and also about the workings of the Irish country estate in the past.

History and art events will take place throughout the summer months. A coffee van and seating area are located on the Bleach Green by the house, offering visitors the opportunity for picnics and refreshments immersed in the sights and sounds of nature.

For more information visit heritageireland.ie

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