While much of Ireland has been cultivated for thousands of years, it still has wild places where the wind blows and howls. Wild things grow in the cracks in rocks, and the beauty of creation is untamed. I found many such places along the coast. These places are popular with the film industry simply because they are wild, free from the noises of civilization and possess rugged beauty. Alas, my vacation in Ireland wasn’t long enough to explore many of the wild inland mountains and bogs. I need to take another trip.
The basalt formation reaching into the sea that gave the site its name. This heritage site is always crowded with people unless it's being used in filming for the movies or TV. Scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in this rugged area. The whole National Heritage Site along the North coast is huge.
The Burden is southwest of Gallway in county Clare. The area does have some farmland with shallow topsoil over the limestone. This area was so poor, even the English didn't want it. In the 1840's at the time of the great famine that killed a million people, the subsistence farmers in the Burren survived much as they always had because they didn't have English overlords dictating that they grow potatoes and they didn't share their meager crops with outsiders.
Lakes on the Kerry Peninsula. This is rugged basin and range country. Few people live here. They do have electricity but no internet. They don't even have a date for installing internet. Some locals don't know why they need internet--truly wild country. Note: This remote-seeming area isn't that far from the town of Killarney--about forty minutes by bus. The northern end of this lake system can be seen in my pictures of Killarney House gardens below in my Gardens of Irish Republic blog.
In the second week of May the gardens we visited in the Republic of Ireland were not a riot of color. The tulips and daffodils were gone leaving the rhododendrons and azaleas to carry the show. The structure and settings for the gardens, played a huge role in carrying the gardens through this gap in bloom. I was impressed at how well these gardens rose to challenge of providing interest during the transition. Of course there were enough azaleas and rhododendrons to please the garden visitors
Kylemore Abby sits a couple hours drive north of Gallway on the edge of a small lake. The azaleas were lovely. I found several places here where the gardens were farther through their season than my Seattle garden.
Killarny House gardens: Look at this setting! This long border and open lawns wouldn't do much anywhere else but here they beg the visiter to sit and contemplate the lakes and mountains of the Kerry peninsula. I loved the use of the tall waving grasses in this border, giving it a constant sense of movement.
Kilarney House gardens were a bit of a hidden gem. They weren't mentioned in any of our guide books and our tour guide casually mentioned they were open to the public as we drove past. They were well worth a visit. I found lots of unusual specimen plants. These blue columbine are finicky in my garden, but they thrive here.
Private garden in Kindle: The composition of the gray stone wall, yellow tree and purple flower caught my attention. The golden chain trees were blooming all over Ireland while we were there. They do better there than in my garden. I came home to find mine fried from one 80* day following a cold wet spell.
Azalea bed at the entrance to the Japanese Gardens and stud farm at Kildare. Since the main attraction here was the stud farm, hubby took one look at this and asked if the sculpture was supposed to represent a giant horse testicle. No. He was just grumpy because he's hauled food and water to too many horses.
Here we are at St. Stephen's green in the middle of Dublin. We stopped here at the end of our vacation. We'd spent the previous day touring Dublin. I was tired and the noise of the city was starting to get to this country girl. We entered the garden and the noise went away. The hedges effectively blocked the sound of traffic and a half-million people buzzing about. Blessed quiet. Slip into this garden in the heart of Dublin to get refreshed.
Delinda McCann is a social psychologist, author, avid organic gardener and amateur musician.