Myself and Lillibug recently made our way to Kildare to the Irish National Stud and Gardens, and we had a fantastic day out, just the two of us! It was a great opportunity to bring Lillibug to a place my Daddy brought me all the time when I was a child, so I couldn't say no when we were kindly invited.
In 1900 Colonel William Walker a purchased the land around Tully. From there he established a magnificent bloodstock of horses and also created the Japanese Gardens. It was then, in 1916, Colonel William Walker gifted the bloodstock to the British Government, thereby creating a National Stud along with Newmarket's The National Stud of the United Kingdom. After Ireland established a new government in 1943 the stud was then acquired by that government and became the Irish National Stud Company LTD. The stud has become renowned the world over for it's thoroughbred horse breeding facility and winning stock. Today the stud is still a working stud breeding winning horses and has a prestigious breeding course. We also get to embrace this industry and the gardens with over 115,000 visitors to the stud each year.
The Japanese Gardens were absolutely stunning and when I looked back at my camera I had taken over 100 pictures of the gardens alone which is really unheard of for me! Lillibug really enjoyed the gardens too and was looking for fairies. I tried to tell her the story of the gardens by incorporating the fairies into the journey of the pathway of life and she was interested. The Japanese Gardens gives your senses an overload of beauty but it creates a peacefulness inside you as you stroll the pathway.
The Irish National Stud also has a museum that houses the skeleton of the famous racehorse Arkle! Lillibug thought the skeleton was the most amazing thing she had ever seen but then again she did think it was a dinosaur! Also just outside the museum there are jigsaw puzzles on the wall which Lillibug loved so I really love how kids are also getting a great day out and learning along the way.
Among the paddocks and stables you will find "Living Legends", the great racehorses who are now in retirement, and the "Frolicking Foals" where you will see the future of horse racing. My favourite part was seeing the stallions, who are very busy during the breeding seasons (starting February) meet mares from around the world! Lillibug's favourite was seeing the Falabella, the smallest of horse breeds.
St. Fiachra's Garden was another of Lillibug's favourite spots within the stud, possibly because she made friends with the ducks here and they followed us on the pathway. St. Fiachra is a descendant of a King of Ireland and was known as a healer, a gardener and notable for his charitable work. He is the patron saint of Gardeners so it's very apt to see the attraction now present at the stud.
The land and attractions really fill the senses and make for a wonderful day out for the whole family young and old. Bring a picnic and make use of the picnic areas or dine out in the restaurant which also overlooks the Japanese gardens.
The facilities are brilliant and everything thought of from wheelchairs available to borrow, a playground, baby changing facilities, and accessibility for wheelchairs and prams. We enjoyed the picnic area and settled there for our sandwiches, and the ducks came to say hello which Lillibug got great enjoyment out of. I would also like to mention that the staff were so friendly and so helpful, it was something I heard more than once from others as we walked around too. We finished off our day at the stud with the most delicious ice creams.