It’s not often that I find myself in Dublin over the weekend with little or no coursework to complete, but last weekend I found myself with a precious window of spare time to enjoy what this beautiful city has to offer. I know many of you reading this may not have the opportunity to travel home at weekends, so this one’s for you Sunday adventurers who want to get out and about, without having to stray too far from the city centre.
DISCLAIMER: If you suffer from hay fever like I do, pop those tablets into you before you go and don’t forget like I did because I was a snivelling wreck after the tour and it just looked like I was really emotional about how pretty the flowers were.
The National Botanic Gardens are nestled in the north side of the city, separated from the historical Glasnevin Cemetery by only a wall, and it only takes a 15 minute bus ride to get there from O’Connell Street. Guided tours during the week are usually €5, but on Sundays there are free guided tours that start at 12.00pm and 2.30pm.
During the hour, our tour guide took us through a brief history of the gardens and all the efforts that are being made by the horticulturists in conserving and cultivating the extensive range of plant life that the gardens boast. Within the living collections at the National Botanic Gardens there are over 300 endangered species from around the world, and 6 species already extinct in the wild. The guide explained that these are a vital resource, like a Noah’s Ark for the future.
The majority of the tour is spent examining the flora housed within the impressive architecture of the Curvilinear Range of glasshouses, which were constructed from iron in the 1840s. This style and method of construction was promoted by the celebrated Dublin iron-master Richard Turner, and he was instrumental in having this range built and was largely responsible for its design.
From this point until the end of summer, the gardens will be in full bloom, so now is the time to take advantage of the arresting views of sprawling flower beds and authoritative redwoods towering over glass houses. Whether you come to learn, or simply to enjoy a Sunday stroll, there’s something for everyone in the Botanic gardens. However, I should probably note that as the gardens are primarily a scientific resource, picnics are and dogs are not allowed, unless the dog is a guide dog. The visitor centre at the entrance has a restaurant and coffee shop if you’re feeling a bit peckish but please, I beg of you, do not forget your hay fever tablets.
You can find more information and plan your visit at botanicgardens.ie