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Is Mount Congreve Ireland’s Prettiest Garden?

Mount Congreve Gardens and House in Waterford Ireland

 

Mount Congreve House and Gardens

 

On day 3 of our visit to County Waterford, we had an outdoorsy day! We started off with a cycle through Waterford’s Greenway and then visited the Mount Congreve Estate, which is famous for its extensive gardens and recently renovated estate house. If you like gardens, you have to visit Mount Congreve – it’s known as one of the best gardens in the world and even in mid October, the house and estate were stunning.

Here’s a bit about what we saw, learned and explored!

 



 

Cycling along the Waterford Greenway

First we took a leisurely bike ride to check out the Waterford Greenway. Ireland has been experimenting recently with redeveloping old railroad track space into public walking and cycling trails, or greenways. County Waterford is the second county in the country to give it a go (after County Mayo saw great success with their greenway) and the state created the Deise Greenway, a 46 km long trail connecting the two cities of Waterford and Dungarven.

For my New Yorkers, think of it as a longer, more outdoorsy version of the High Line!

 

We rented bikes from a local, Donal Jacob at Greenway Waterford Bike Hire and started out on a leisurely 6 km bike ride along Suir Railway. I left my big camera on our bus so unfortunately I don’t have great photos but it’s an incredibly tranquil route with woodlands on one side and the magnificent River Suir on the other.

At one point we rode through forest and had a peak at the fairies :)

On the way, we passed the back entrance to Mount Congreve which looked huge. Eventually we kept peddling and made it to Kilmeadan Station, a rail stop on the old railway line which was renovated and recently opened in March 2017. It’s an entirely community run project with volunteer conductors and we had a little pit stop to enjoy the vintage Irish Rail Carriage. It also offers refreshment inside the vintage train which is quite cute!

During the holidays they run Halloween and Christmas train rides for kids, which sounded adorable. That holiday train ride runs a short 15 minutes into the woods and they put on a little winter wonderland for the children (so it sounds nicer than the NYC Holiday Train which is underground in a smelly old subway tube ha)

Then we doubled back about ~3 km from Kilmeadan Rail Station to visit Mount Congreve!

 



 

Mount Congreve

I love gardens. I think they’re quite pretty and quite impressive, as I have the blackest thumbs. I remember visiting Lady Bird Johnson’s garden in Texas and being amazed at how large it was.

Well, the Mount Congreve Estate is equally grand! Located just outside Waterford City, it was originally built by local County Waterford architect John Roberts. It has quite the reputation, and is known as one of the world’s best gardens, with over 30 hectares of woodland.

I loved the lavender pathway, the pumpkin patch (although I don’t think the Irish get quite so pumpkin crazed as we do) and the small lakes and archways. I especially loved the conservatory garden! There were more colors and varieties of rhododendrons and dahlias than I’ve ever seen, and this was in cold October! I can only imagine how pretty it must be in spring and summer.

 



 

Mount Congreve Gardens

The late owner Mr. Ambrose Congreve, was inspired to create the gardens after seeing Lionel de Rothschild’s gardens at Exbury in Hampshire England. He had actually become quite ill many years before and thinking he was about to pass, deeded the gardens and estate to the city.

Miraculously, he recovered so they decided to hold the estate in trust for the city until 2032.

 



 

 

Afterwards we went off to have lunch at The Reg!

 

Visit Mount Congreve Gardens

Open Thursday to Sunday from 11am – 5.30pm, March to September.

Last entry to the gardens at 4.30pm.

 


 

Visiting Ireland – Travel Checklist

Aer Lingus, the national Irish airline, offers non-stop flights from select US cities. While we didn’t enjoy our experience with them (flight attendants skipped us for meals multiple times and were rude) Aer Lingus is rapidly expanding their routes and offers low fares (some non stop) from many US cities. We found cheap flights to Ireland in October – you can check for flight deals and routes here.

When returning to the U.S., take advantage of the U.S. pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports, where you complete U.S. immigration, customs and agriculture controls before departure so that when you land in the U.S., you can just collect your bags.

I highly recommend staying at an Irish country house or family run hotel during your trip. Irish hospitality is truly something else. Check out Ireland’s Blue Book for luxury, boutique accommodation with a focus on family-run properties and excellent food.

Lastly, be sure to visit Ireland with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, or your phone gets stolen, or an injury forces you to cancel all or part of your vacation, travel insurance will help when you need it most. Hurricane Ophelia hit the country smack in the middle of our road trip! I use and recommend Allianz travel insurance.

 

 You Might Also Enjoy: 

 

Ireland Vacation Planning Articles

Itinerary, Tips & Advice for How to Plan the Perfect Ireland Vacation

For Foodies: All the Best Food We Ate in Ireland

How to Master Driving in Ireland (as a tourist!)

7 Useful Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland

10 Enchanting Castles in Ireland – You Can Actually Stay In!

Packing Checklist: What to Wear in Ireland

 

Irish Sights, Activities & Tours We Especially Enjoyed:

20 Photos to Inspire Your Visit to Kylemore Abbey

Co Kerry: 7 Can’t Miss Sights in Killarney

Mingle in Dingle: The Best Things to Do in this Quaint Fishing Village

Co Waterford: 8 Reasons You’ll Love Waterford, Ireland’s Oldest City!

Visiting the House of Waterford Crystal

Is Mount Congreve Ireland’s Best Garden?

Co Wexford: Don’t Skip Wexford – Here’s Why!

Co Kilkenny: Exploring Kilkenny Castle, in photos

 

Restaurant & Hotels We Loved:

County Clare: Gregans Castle Hotel

County Galway: Rosleague Manor Hotel, Where to Stay in Galway

County Wexford: The Strand Inn

County Waterford: The Cliff House Hotel, The Reg Pub

 

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