A Guide To Visiting The Fabulous Lismore Castle Gardens In Waterford

lismore castle gardens
Photos via Shutterstock

A visit to Lismore Castle Gardens on a fine day is hard to beat.

They’re made up of two individual gardens set on nearly 7 acres within Lismore Castle’s walls.

The layout of the upper walled garden with steps and terraces is still almost the same as it was when first constructed in 1605. The lower garden features old yew trees, open lawns, fruit & vegetables and much more.

In the guide below, you’ll find out everything from the picnics and the walks to the history of the gorgeous gardens themselves.

Some quick need-to-knows before you visit Lismore Castle Gardens

lismore gardens
Photos by Paul Vowles (Shutterstock)

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

1. Location

Lismore Castle Gardens are situated on the outskirts of Lismore town, and you can avail of free parking at the local car park. The route to the gardens is well signposted and is a short walk of approx. 8 minutes.

2. Opening times and admission

The Gardens are open 7 days a week from 10.30 am – 5.30 pm. The last admission is at 4.30 pm. Prices range from €6.50 for children to €8.50 for adults. Seniors have a discounted price of €7, and a family of 5 can buy a Family Ticket for €20 (times and prices may change).

3. Lismore Castle

Built in 1185 by Prince John, as he was then, Lismore Castle has been owned by the Cistercian Monks, Sir Walter Raleigh, Richard Boyle (the 1st Earl of Cork) and then to the 4th Duke of Devonshire. The Castle was rebuilt in Gothic style in the 1800s and contains some of the best examples of Pugin domestic furniture in private ownership.

A snappy history of Lismore Castle Gardens

The gardens are 2 separate spaces spread out over 7 glorious acres. Richard Boyle commissioned the upper walled garden in 1605, and only the plantings have changed since then. Stone steps, high hedges and a flower meadow all add to the 17th Century charm of this secluded garden.

The lower garden was once divided by a road, but when Joseph Paxton (the designer of Crystal Palace) came to the Castle, he saw the area quite differently. 

Peat was drawn in from the Knockmealdown mountains, and the lower gardens were born. Camelia, magnolia and rhododendrons are but some of the species laying a carpet of petals for visitors. The gardens are connected by The Riding House, another innovation from Paxton.

Beginning in the late 1990s, the family started to introduce sculpture to the gardens. In 2005 the West Wing was renovated and turned into an art gallery, open to the public.

The Castle and gardens were awarded an Eco-Merit award in 2014. This award recognises the Castle’s Environmental Policy and Improvement Plan, a system to monitor performance and prevent pollution.

What to expect if you visit Lismore Castle Gardens

Lismore Castle
Photo by Stephen Long (Shutterstock)

When you visit Lismore Gardens, be aware that’s all you get to see – there is no entry to the Castle as it’s a private residence.

However, the gardens are beautiful all year round and spectacular in the summer months. Your ticket also covers the Contemporary Art Gallery in the West Wing of the Castle.

Teamwork makes the dream work

A team of gardeners work here, and it’s evident that everything is exceptionally well cared for. The present custodians of the Castle have a passion for the gardens and constantly strive to do what’s best for all the plantings and their habitats.

You can spend a couple of hours here strolling through both gardens, stopping to sit on one of the many benches to admire the castle views as well as the mountains. It seems that around every corner there’s a surprise with unusual plants or flowers and everywhere bursting with colour.

Picnics at the Gardens

With all the benches scattered around and a dedicated picnic area, you’d be mad not to bring a picnic with you. However, if you haven’t, you can get a picnic for two made up for you at the café, or buy cakes and snacks to add to what you have. 

The apple juice from the orchard and homemade savoury and sweet snacks are delicious. The gardens are very family-friendly, and children have lots to keep them occupied with trails and tracks around the gardens and trees and a small play area.

Things to do near Lismore Castle Gardens

One of the beauties of Lismore Castle Gardens is that they’re a short drive away from some other excellent places to visit in Waterford.

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

1. Ballysaggartmore Towers

Ballysaggartmore Lismore
Photo by Bob Grim (Shutterstock)

Ballysaggartmore Towers are situated in lovely woodland approximately 3km from Lismore Castle – simply follow the directions for Fermoy, and there’s ample parking at the entrance. The Towers have existed since 1834 when they were built by Arthur Kiely-Ussher as the entrance to his new Castle. A castle that was never built because he ran out of money. The Towers are still in excellent condition and give an other-worldly feel to the surrounding woodland.

2. The Vee Pass

The vee drive
Photo by Frost Anna/shutterstock.com

Nature at its best, the Vee Pass is a road winding and twisting 2,000 ft above sea level with views over 5 counties on a clear day. The Vee Pass is a fantastic, naturally formed phenomenon as it’s the gap in the Knockmealdown mountains that provide fabulous views. In late May/early June, the sight as you drive up the mountain is not to be missed. Masses of purple flowering rhododendrons cover the hillsides and provide a fitting escort to one of the most amazing views in the country.

3. The Waterford Greenway

Kilmacthomas Viaduct
Photo by Elizabeth O’Sullivan (Shutterstock)

The Waterford Greenway runs between Dungarvan and Waterford City for 46km affording cyclists and walkers alike beautiful scenery and places of historical interest. The cycle takes 3.5-4 hours, or you could take your time and rest a night in one of the villages or towns you pass through along the way. The ground is easy going, but like all outdoor pursuits in Ireland, remember to pack a raincoat and good shoes.

FAQs about Lismore Castle Gardens in Waterford

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from are Lismore Castle Gardens open to the public to what there is to see.

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.

Is Lismore Castle Gardens open to the public?

Yes, Lismore Castle Gardens are open to the public – it’s the castle itself that isn’t (it’s privately owned).

Are Lismore Castle Gardens worth visiting?

Yes! The gardens are beautifully maintained and they’re a fine spot for a ramble on a nice day.

What is there to do at Lismore Castle Gardens?

You can spend a couple of hours here strolling through both gardens or you can get one of the picnics.

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