Ireland day 0243. Saturday 29 May 2022- Ardgillan

Ireland day 0243. Saturday 29 May 2022- Ardgillan
Today’s summary Drove 30 min up the M1 from Malahide to Ardgillan House.   Explored the large beautifully landscaped demesne with the Dublin Walking Club.   Will return with Val when she gets a day off work
Today’s weather Cold and overcast in the morning.   Bright sun in the afternoon.   Moderate northerly wind.   Dry all day.   About 14C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Ardgillan DWC

We must have driven past the entrance to the Ardgillan house and demesne a dozen times, on our way north up the M1 motorway.   But even though it is only half an hour’s drive from Malahide, we’ve never been in.   I’m not quite sure why we never got round to visiting, but today the Dublin Walking Club had organised a short walk around the demesne so I took the opportunity to have a social stroll and to see what the place had to offer.   Sadly, Val was at work today but I think we will definitely return when she’s got a day off.

The land at Ardgillan was acquired by one Rev. Robert Taylor from a wine merchant  in Tallaght, Robert Usher.   He built the house on it in 1738.   Taylor came from a family that had been involved in producing some of the first land surveys of Ireland – the “Down” surveys – which were carried out in the mid-1600s following the Cromwellian land confiscations.   The Taylor family lived there until 1962 when the financial burden became too great so it was sold to a German businessman.   Eventually, Dublin county council bought it in 1982 and the whole place – land and house – was opened to the public in 1992.

Ardgillan house is located in a large estate (or demesne in the vernacular) on an east-facing slope, between Balbriggan to the north, and Skerries to the south.   It’s free to enter – a vast, lovely public space.   The first thing you see when you walk out of the car park is a huge grassy expanse, sloping down towards the Irish Sea with the rambling pile of Ardgillan house at the bottom.   But the real surprise is the view beyond.   Maybe it takes an especially clear day like today, but there, right in front of you floating on the horizon – are the Mournes.   Yes, they look alluring.  I could quite easily see Slieve Donard (the highest summit towards the right hand side of the banner image at the top of this blog), where I’d been walking on Friday, and where I’d felt so far away from it all.   So near yet so far, it seems.

It was biting cold, though, when we set off – and sadly the down jacket and woolly hat had to go back on for the first hour or so, until the sun came out.   But notwithstanding the chill, it was an enjoyable walk through this huge (80 hectare / 200 acre) demesne.   It’s neatly kept, with mown areas for walking, and large areas dedicated to wild flowers.   It finishes at the road-and-railway line that runs along the coast, but there’s a bridge over these transport arteries, for the exclusive use of the Estate, which leads down to a private beach on the shore.

There’s more to the site than just the grassy areas.   I really enjoyed the rose garden and the walled herb garden, and the greenhouses today were looking particularly attractive after their recent refurbishment – which was only completed a couple of weeks ago, actually.  There are several tea-shops to choose from – all expensive of course (cup of coffee and a piece of cake – €7.50) but somewhat irresistible.

So we had a good look round the gardens, enjoyed an extended chat, and then said our goodbyes.   It was still early so I had a look round part of the house – there’s an “artists workshop” upstairs where I met an interesting lady painting clothes-pegs and electric food mixers.   I wasn’t tempted by her artwork, though, fine as it undoubtedly was.    I also side-stepped the house tour at €5 – I’ll probably do it on a future visit, when Val is with me.

At that point, it was time to beat a retreat so I’d be back for when Val finished work.   But I came away really impressed by Ardgillan.   Just a bit surprised it had taken so long to discover it.   We will definitely be back!

(By the way – in case you were worrying – the railway bridge repair work seems to be finished now.   The noise didn’t keep us awake, really, though I had a different problem to deal with last night.   As I was going to bed, I stubbed my toe on a chair leg and I woke up at 2 am with a throbbing pain in my right foot.   Eventually after dosing up with painkillers, I fell asleep at about 4 am but now I am nursing a bright blue toe.   Impressive, but I don’t think it’s broken.   And it seems to have stopped throbbing now, so hopefully an uninterrupted night beckons!).


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

The Lady’s Stairs.   The steps go up to a bridge over the road and railway and then down to a private beach used by the lady of the house for sea swimming.   They were built so the gentry didn’t have to mix with the hoi polloi on the road below.   It wasn’t exactly a happy intervention, as one of the ladies of the house, Lady Conolly, was drowned when swimming there in 1853.   We didn’t venture down as the tide was in and the beach submerged Spectacular alliums decorating the borders of the vast wild flower meadows
View from the yew avenue at the back of the house, with the ditch of the ha-ha, which surrounds the house, visible just behind the trees The newly restored glasshouses – they were originally donated to Ardgillan by the Jameson estate in Malahide in the 1990s and to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening of Ardgillan to the public, they have been expertly renovated.   They were officially reopened last week by the mayor of Fingal and they look stunning.   Sadly though you can only admire them from the outside as you aren’t allowed to go in.
In the Walled Garden.   Absolutely looking its very best, against the brilliant blue sky.   A complete contrast to the morning, when it felt like it might snow The herb beds in the walled garden
There are roses everywhere in the garden but this rambling rose growing over the entrance to the walled garden, was particularly spectacular.
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 5549 m
Max elevation: 97 m
Min elevation: 21 m
Total climbing: 113 m
Total descent: -117 m
Total time: 03:49:51
Download file: Ardgillan 2c corrected.gpx

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