A Guide to Fernhill House And Gardens: Dublin’s Newest Public Park

fernhill house and gardens
Photos via MyHome.ie

The beautiful Fernhill Gardens in Stepaside is one of the newest parks in Dublin, and it’s well worth a visit.

Set on a very large estate that was established in 1723, Fernhill House and Gardens is now home to one of our favourite, short walks in Dublin.

Home to beautifully kept gardens that boast a stream, mature rhododendrons, some huge sequoia/redwoods and ancient oak trees, this really is a great place to spend an hour.

Below, you’ll find info on everything from parking at Fernhill Gardens and when they’re open to the story behind the very old Fernhill House.

Some quick need-to-knows about Fernhill Park and Gardens

Although a visit to Fernhill House and Gardens is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

You’ll find Fernhill Gardens finely plonked upon 34 hectares of land in Stepaside, a stone’s throw from the Dublin Mountains and a short spin from Sandyford.

2. Opening hours

Fernhill Gardens are open daily from 9am and they close at sunset throughout the year. The times are as follows:

  • Feb-March: 9am to 6pm
  • April-August: 9am to 9pm
  • September: 9am to 8pm
  • October: 9am to 6pm
  • Nov-January: 9am to 5pm

3. Parking

Phase 2 of the park’s development includes new car parking facilities for those visiting Fernhill Park and Gardens. Once completed there will be 3 car parks serving the park. They are clearly signposted from the main road (here’s one on Google maps). 

4. Dublin’s newest public park   

Fernhill Park and Gardens was saved from becoming a housing development. Instead, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council purchased the land in 2014 in order to develop it as a regional public park.

5. The house is currently closed

Plans for Fernhill House and Gardens include two phases of work to conserve and restore the historic house and gardens, install paths and provide visitor facilities. Phase 2 will provide car parking, a traffic signal junction, a sports pitch, seating, lighting and ground cover.

About Fernhill House and Gardens

Fernhill gardens dublin
Photos via MyHome.ie

Fernhill House was originally a country estate established in 1723 at Stepaside. It included a family residence, outbuildings, gardens and 34 hectares of park and woodland.

Currently under development as a public park, it preserves a historic landscape on the outskirts of Dublin City. Once completed, the park will have landscaping, footpaths, ponds, a play area, sports pitch, 400m running track, 3 car parks, woodland walks, a sports court and more.

The original coachhouse will be developed as tearooms with a new tower building providing toilets and staff facilities. Currently (2021) the final stages are still a work in progress. One of the planned features is a herd of free-roaming Droimeann cattle to keep the grass in check. 

What to expect from a walk around Fernhill Gardens

fernhill house and gardens
Photos via MyHome.ie

Fernhill House and Gardens was owned by the Darley family back in 1723. They laid out the grounds in the natural landscaping style of Lancelot “Capability” Brown, as was the fashion at that time. 

The existing mature rhododendrons, huge sequoia/redwoods and oak trees date back to that time. The estate passed to the Walker family who continued to develop the garden plan. The green-fingered matriarch, Sally Walker, lived there until she was well in her 90s.

The paths were deliberately wide to accommodate three ladies walking side-by-side without crushing their hooped skirts! Small flights of steps and hidden nooks create a sense of a hidden garden in this Arts and Crafts-style estate.

The stream adds to the charm of the gardens with a bridge, pools, waterfalls and ferns lining the banks. Fernhill is home to a unique plant collection of acid-loving plants including established rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias.

The perfect time to see these showy plants at their best is in late spring/early summer along with carpets of snowdrops and spring flowering bulbs. In short, it’s a little taste of rural paradise a stone’s throw from the city!

Things to do near Fernhill Gardens

One of the reasons that a trip out to Fernhill Gardens is one of our favourite day trips from Dublin City is due to the endless nearby walks.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Fernhill Park (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Ticknock Forest (5-minute drive) 

Ticknock hill walk
Photo by J.Hogan (Shutterstock)

Head southeast from Fernhill Park to tackle the Ticknock walk. It’s a lovely place for a hike with superb views of Dublin City, Bray and Wicklow. Start from the car park and follow the forest road leading to Three Rocks Mountain. Continue on to Fairy Castle, an ancient passage tomb at the highest point in the Dublin Mountains. 

2. Carrickgollogan Forest (10-minute drive)

carrickgollogan forest walk
Photos via Shutterstock

Located in the southeast corner of County Dublin, Carrickgollogan Forest offers 8km of scenic walks on forest roads. Head through woodlands of established pine, larch, birch and beech trees to the viewing rock on top of the hill. The woods also hide an ancient dolmen, a Rath Memorial to Dr. Alcock, and the chimney from a disused lead mine. 

3. Cruagh Wood (15-minute drive)

Cruagh Woods walk
Photos via Shutterstock

Cruagh Wood is 10km southeast of Fernhill Park. You’ll find several way-marked trails through the woods, at times overlapping with the Dublin Mountains Way. The Slí na Sláinte loop forest road provides a very pleasant walk with access to Cruagh summit. At 522m elevation, you can be sure of stunning views of Dublin on a clear day. 

4. Tibradden Wood (15-minute drive)

Tibradden wood walk
Photos via Shutterstock

Head south from Fernhill to Tibradden Wood (Teach Bruadain in Irish). It’s a beautiful shady wood mainly of Scots pine, larch, spruce and deciduous native trees tucked between the Cruagh and Kilmashogue Mountains. Highlights include an open cairn and ancient kist burial site at this National Monument along with breathtaking views.

FAQs about Fernhill House and Gardens

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘When are Fernhill Gardens open?’ to ‘How old is Fernhill House?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Are Fernhill Gardens in Dublin open to the public?

Yes! Fernhill House and Gardens is Dublin’s newest public park. It’s a fine spot for a short ramble and the gardens are beautifully maintained.

What is there to do at Fernhill House and Gardens?

The biggest draw of this place is the grounds. This is the perfect place for an easy saunter. Bring a cup of coffee and stroll while soaking up the views.

Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.

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