I discovered Killruddery House and Gardens while looking for things to do around Bray, close to Dublin. Initially, I wanted to walk the Bray to Greystones trail, but it was closed at the time (July 2021). However, after finding Killruddery estate, I couldn’t miss it.
How to get to Killruddery House
Killruddery House and Gardens is an oasis at Southern Cross in Bray. It is close enough to Dublin, about 30 km from the city center. However, Killruddery estate is in County Wicklow, also known as The Garden of Ireland. The drive from Dublin will take about 45 minutes, and you will find ample (free) parking before the entrance.
Alternatively, using public transport, you need to get the DART green line from Connoly station to Bray. From Bray station, take the 184 bus to Briar Woods station. Then, walk the 10 minutes to Killruddery estate.
The Story of Killruddery House
Killruddery House was the residence of 15 generations of the Earls of Meath, the Brabazon Family. They still live here and have made it their mission to preserve the estate while making it available for the public. They also created a bio-diverse environment and started growing chemical-free fruit and vegetables on the farm.
Almost every part of the estate is open to the public and there is a lot to discover on the grounds. So much that one visit is not enough. Once you get the taste for it, you may want to visit Killruddery Gardens from time to time.
So, what is there to see in Killruddery estate?
Killruddery House and Gardens Attractions
You have a beautiful day, an extensive estate to visit, and you’re wondering where to start. Let me walk you through it.
The Grain Store Cafe
The first place you’ll see as you walk to Killruddery House is the Grain Store Cafe. They transformed the old storage place into an original coffee shop. There is indoor sitting as well, in case the weather becomes, well…, Irish.
Most of the food served here comes directly from Killruddery’s farm, so it doesn’t get more “farm to table” than this. Anyway, I would save the cafe for later I was you. We have some gardens to visit.
The Cafe is open every day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It is outside the gardens, so you can visit the Grain Store Cafe any day without paying an entrance fee.
Also, on Saturday mornings, there is a Farm Market here featuring local products.
As you walk through the entrance, the House and formal Gardens will be to your left, and the farm and walled garden will be to your right. Go left first, there is a lot more to see and you can visit the farm before you leave.
The estate is even larger than Malahide Castle and Gardens to the north of Dublin. You are bound to miss some of it, but you should stumble upon the ones below:
The Beech Circle
Inside a dense beech hedge circle, a lily pond is waiting to be discovered. The beeches are more than 200 years old, and they hide the pond and its French fountain from view outside the circle.
The Sylvan Theater
The Sylvan Theater is a natural amphitheater with a circular grass stage in the middle and surrounded by terraced banks. There aren’t many Sylvan Theaters surviving to this day and the one at Killruddery House and Gardens is still used today for events.
The Wilderness covers a lot of the western side of the garden. This is where the gardeners allow nature to have a say. It isn’t rigid as the formal gardens might seem, and it’s a great place to walk through.
On the other side of the ponds, a series of tall hedgerows create the “Angles”. It is less than a maze, but it can seem one. It’s interesting to see the views of the house and the rest of the gardens from different points inside the Angles.
The Long Ponds
The Long Ponds – are the central piece of the formal gardens at Killruddery House. They are two twin canals in front of the house. Their mission is to reflect the foliage above as well as the house or the clouds. Looking from the house, they amplify the view, making it deeper.
The formal gardens border is a water ditch. It’s not one of the fashionable features, but it serves both a functional and an aesthetic purpose. The ditch is there to divide the gardens to the rest of the estate and to prevent the animals from coming into the garden. On the other hand, you can’t see the canal from less than a few meters, so it’s a natural border that doesn’t obstruct the view in any way.
The large lawn between the house and the rock garden is the perfect place to relax on a sunny day. Bring a blanket and enjoy the day from under one of the impressive trees.
Killruddery House Tour
You can only visit the house on a guided tour. Tours are organized Tuesday to Sunday at 12:00, 1:30 PM, and 3:00 PM from May to September.
It’s a good idea to check the website before going. Sometimes the tours will be canceled on days they host private events in the house.
The Brabazon family called it home for about 400 years, so there is a lot of history to discover during the tour.
One of the highlights of the tour is the Orangery. Crystal Palace in London influenced the building. The Orangery hosts the marble statues that the 11th Earl of Meath brought from his Grand Tour in Italy in the 19th century.
The Clock Tower
At one end of Killruddery House, the Clock Tower sits above a gateway to the inner courtyard. The water clock inside was designed by the 13th Earl of Meath, and it worked continuously for 80 years, showing the time on the three faces of the tower. It was recently restored and still holds the title of the most exact water clock in the world.
The Tea Room
The Tea Room is the old Dairy, an octagonal building added in the 19th century. It was beautifully transformed into a small terrace with counter service for lunch or a coffee. I recommend the ice cream, made with fresh farm ingredients and season’s fruit.
In front of the Tea Room, the sunken gardens or the parterre were designed by Daniel Robertson, who also worked at the Powerscourt Estate nearby.
The Walled Garden
We finished with the formal gardens. Now, it’s time to discover the walled garden and the farm as well. On the other side of the entrance, you start your walk through a small apple orchard. This is also a picnic area, and there’s a large sandbox for the little ones to play in.
The atmosphere is different here, it’s a working farm, and they keep hens and pigs, they grow vegetables and herbs. Also, there are a lot of flowers within the walled gardens.
You can taste some of their products in the Tea Room or Cafe. For now, I think it’s time to grab your picnic basket and relax in the Apple Orchard, observing the farm life.
The Farm Shop
The last stop should be at the farm shop, inside the Grain Store Cafe. This is where you can take home with you a souvenir, or better yet, some fresh groceries.
They also sell flowers from the walled garden, and it will be hard to resist taking some home with you.
Tickets and Hours
The gardens are open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and the last entrance is at 4:00 PM. The ticket for the Killruddery gardens costs 8.50€, while the House tour (which includes the garden entrance) costs 15.50€.
There are some interesting membership options (I noticed memberships are popular in Ireland). You can choose one of the yearly memberships and get access to the gardens as many times as you want to. Members can also bring one or more guests. It seems pretty convenient if you live in the area.
You should be aware that dogs are not allowed into the formal gardens. Also, while you can spend time on the lawn, you should use the picnic area in the orchard for eating.
Where to stay in Bray
If you want to explore the area further, check out this fabulous place to stay in Bray: The Strand Hotel. It comes with a sea view and a history linked to Oscar Wilde.
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Did I convince you to visit Killruddery House and Gardens? What other beautiful estates have you visited in Ireland? Tell me all about it in the comments below.