Some of the most famous garden landscapes can be seen here in Tully. Created by the Japanese gardener, Eida, and his son Minoru, for Colonel William Hall-Walker in1906-1910, these Japanese gardens, built upon reclaimed bog lands, are significant not only for their horticultural beauty, but also for their statements about life’s journey – from birth to the beyond.
The gardens progress through 20 stages, each one representing a different point in the cycle of human life. Specific areas are named – examples include the Hill of Learning, the Hill of Ambition, the Marriage Bridge, the Island of Joy and Wonder, the Tunnel of Ignorance, the Well of Wisdom, the Red Bridge of Life and the Garden of Peace, which represents the afterlife.
Near the gardens, you’ll find the Irish National Stud Farm, founded in 1900, also by Colonel Hall-Walker. Dedicated to the breeding of quality bloodlines, champion racehorses were born here. The farm was turned over to the Irish state in the 1940s and has been expanding ever since. Visitors can see stallions, kept exclusively for breeding, being groomed and exercised regularly.
Guided tours are available, where one can view the paddocks and stable blocks, filled with unique lantern roofed buildings. The colonel was a great believer in astrology, and these building were designed to provide the best possible positioning for astrological influences on the occupants. It was said that astrological charts were cast for each new foal, and those with adverse influences in their charts were usually sold as soon as possible.
Visit between February and June, and you can see as many as 300 foals on the property. Seven stallions service over 100 mares each per year. Also on the grounds, you can visit the National Stud Horse Museum, and learn more about the involvement of horses in the history of Ireland. Exhibits contain horse bones from medieval times, riding equipment and the skeleton of Arkle, the famous Irish racehorse from the 1960s. The Visitor’s Centre contains a souvenir shop, which among other items features clothing bearing the unique logo of the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens. A small restaurant and picnic tables are available.