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Aran Inspired

Castle Ward

Castle Ward sits on the south shore of Stangford Lough, nestled amid woodlands, gardens and the beauty of the lakeshore. This manor house is unique because it is made up of two completely different styles of architecture and décor. Bernard Ward, the First Viscount Bangor, and his wife, Anne, built the home in the 1760s. According to history, they could not agree on the style for their new abode, so they each chose what they liked for half of the mansion. Lord Bangor took the front portion, and chose a Classical, orderly and restrained style of architecture and furnishing, while Anne’s half, located at the back of the house, was designed and furnished in a more whimsical and ornate Strawberry Hill Gothic.

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Muckross House and Gardens and Traditional Farm

In the centre of beautiful Killarney National Park sits the Muckross Estate, also known as the "Jewel of Killarney". It is also sometimes referred to as Bourn-Vincent Memorial Park. This 1843, 20-room Elizabethan style mansion, with grounds adjacent to Lake Muckross, has become a focal point for the display of County Kerry culture and craftsmanship. The picturesque, ivy covered mansion was built by Henry Herbert and his wife Mary Balfour Herber>t, a watercolourist of some renown. Both are buried in nearby Killegy Churchyard.

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Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park, just west of center city in Dublin, is the largest city park in Europe. It contains approximately 1700 acres and is encircled by a wall that measures seven miles in length. The park measures more than twice the size of Central Park in New York City. The name Phoenix Park was derived in error from the Gaelic Fionn Uisce, pronouned Feeyun-Ishka which means "clear water". The source of this water is a natural spring near the park's central monument, the Phoenix Column, a tower that displays, coincidentally, a phoenix (bird) at its top. Phoenix Park was founded in 1662 as a refugee for deer herds by Lord Ormonde, and some of the descendants of those original residents can still be seen there today.

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Derrynane House and National Park

This 17th Century estate was the ancestral home of Daniel O'Connell, the prominent Irish political figure known as The Liberator. The house, garden, and 320 acres of beautiful seaside parkland on the Ring of Kerry route combine to make up Derrynane National Park. The O'Connell family house now serves as a museum for The Liberator's many valuable historical artefacts.

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Brigit's Garden (Gairdin Bhride)

This unique attraction just outside Galway city centers itself around the theme of the seasonal festivals celebrated by the ancient Celtic people. There are four gardens - Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa, each named for the festival and designed to represent the seasons and the stages of the cycle of life from conception and birth through reproduction and death. They are also designed to complement the native landscape features of western Ireland.

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Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Overlooking the River Shannon, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare one of the country's most popular visitor attractions. Situated among 26 acres, the castle is in excellent condition and contains the finest collection of medieval furniture in the country. The 15th and 16th century furnishings and art on display in the Great Hall capture the Celtic past and heritage of this region. At night time, the Great Hall becomes the setting for medieval costumed banquets complete with court jesters, maids, and food and drink of the middle ages.

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Rowallane Garden

 Rowallane Garden is famous for its beautiful rhododendrons and simple but uniquely artistic arrangements of a wide variety of plants. The manor house on the grounds was built in 1861, and Reverend John Moore designed the gardens. The entrance path to the house is surrounded by lush woodlands, decorated by various stone ornaments and cairns also designed by Rev Moore. There are two walled gardens on the property, the outer and inner gardens. The outer garden is filled with hydrangeas and hostas, while the inner garden features herbs from an old kitchen garden as well as roses. The grounds are ringed with wildflower meadows that contain many rare and beautiful orchids.

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Grey Abbey

Located on the picturesque shores of Strangford Lough, the remains of Grey Abbey sit in the middle of picturesque parkland. The 12th century Cistercian monastery church and cloister are still visible, as well as the re-created herb garden used by the medieval monks to prepare medicinal remedies. Affreca, whose father was King of the Isle of Man, founded the settlement in 1193. The elegant Gothic building was the result of a combination of the French Cistercian order, which came from Cumbria, and the Anglo Norman style. The church was burned during the Elizabethan wars and later restored – it was a house of worship until 1778.

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Castle Archdale Country Park

Castle Archdale Country Park occupies 230 acres along the shores of Lower Lough Erne. The Manor House was built in 1773, and not much of it remains, although some of the estate's original outbuildings are still visible. The park contains many natural attractions, such as ponds rich with resident wildfowl, a meadow of wildflowers, nature trails and butterfly gardens, and a protected red deer area. Archdale Centre is located in the former courtyard area of the estate and houses exhibitions focused on the natural beauty of County Fermanagh, as well as the area's agricultural history. The Centre also features an exhibit called "Castle Archdale at War" which chronicles the role of the estate during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II.

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Straffan Butterfly Farm

The farm contains exotic species of greenery, blossoms and butterflies and moths. Most interesting is its tropical house, the only one of its kind in Ireland, where butterflies of all sizes, shapes, and colours move about freely, feeding on a variety of plants from tropical climates. Visitors can walk about and become completely absorbed in an authentic tropical atmosphere. The Straffan Butterfly farm opened in 1986, containing a variety of butterfly collections from around the world as well as other exhibits that teach about the life cycle, feeding and migration habits of various species. There is a focus on ways that humans can manipulate the environment to improve the quality of butterfly habitats. Visitors can also come face to face with other tropical species including lizards, snakes, tarantulas and scorpions.

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