Victorian Gardens

Refresh your senses in the tranquil Victorian gardens


The Green Flag award-winning gardens at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, Turlough Park, Co. Mayo, are some of the loveliest in the region with lots of interesting features and things to see and do. Today, the gardens and grounds are maintained by the OPW and Mayo County Council.
 
You can follow the work of groundskeeper Noreen Hennigan through the seasons with our Gardener's Blog.
 
Charles Lionel Fitzgerald, who was responsible for commissioning Turlough Park House in 1863, also carried out extensive improvements to the gardens and grounds. He oversaw the addition of an array of buildings and landscape features, including a glasshouse, vinery, a man-made lake with picnic islands, and a boathouse.
 
A printed guide to Turlough Park House and Gardens is available free of charge from Reception.

Garden features

Victorian Conservatory

The original glass house was built between 1874 and 1875 but was destroyed by a violent storm in the 1930s. Mayo County Council rebuilt the structure in 2000. Today, it houses a variety of plants and serves as a central focal point for the gardens.
 

Vinery

The Fitzgeralds would have grown grapes and other fruits in the vinery next to the stable block, which was heated by a cast iron bioler. The vinery was probably built by Richard Turner Engineers and is contemporary with the house.

Sunken Garden

The sunken garden, or corrie, is an ancient natural formation and was heavily planted with beech trees beginning in the 18th century.
 

18th Century Ruin

Just inside the main entrance are the remains of the original Fitzgerald residence at Turlough Park, built in 1722 by Thomas Fitzgerald. The family lived there until 1786.
 

River, lake and islands

Originally the site of a 'turlough' - or temporary winter lake - the man-made lake and three islands, known as 'picnic islands' were created in 1865 by damming the nearby Castlebar River. The lake and islands enhanced the house and were likely quite useful for attracting and hunting wild fowl.
 

Round Tower

Visible from the museum grounds, Turlough Round Tower is one of five surviving in Co. Mayo and dates to the 11th or 12th century. These towers are associated with monastic sites. The church at Turlough is reputed to have been founded by St. Patrick.
 

Terraces

A feature comtemporary with the 1865 house, the terraces were constructed using soil excavated to create the man-made lake in front. Four terraces descent to the lake, interconnected by three flights of limestone steps.
 

The art of Turlough Park

Visitors walking around Turlough Park will see several art pieces dotted throughout the grounds. One such sculpture, located at the rear of the house, is called Portal by Barry Linnane, and reflects the circle of life. The lakeside sculpture is called Raon an Tuthail by Colm Brennan, and is inspired by a childhood memory of rushes being cut with a reaping hook. The sculpture in front of the house is Counsellor II, by the prominent Mayo artist and educator Brother Joseph McNally.
 
 
 
Gardener's Blog

Gardener's Blog

Follow the work of the groundskeeper at Turlough Park through the seasons