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Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens


A historic arboretum and restored Italian walled gardens.

Co Cork
website Contact Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens
Tel: +353 21 481 5543

Please mention when enquiring.

Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens

Opening Months: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Opening Days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5pm in summer (Sun/Bank hols from 11am); 11am-4pm winter
Admission Charge: Garden/arboretum free - house €6 adult; €4 OAPs/Students; €3 children; €15 family; €4 groups 15+
  • Appointment Only
  • Admission Charge

These pleasure grounds, set in a 780 acre estate on Fota Island, are proof of the T and M principle in gardening. Time and money can achieve wonderful results, and the Smith-Barry family had both. In 1820, John Smith-Barry had father and son Richard and Vitruvius Morrison enlarge an existing house on the island, and design the splendid interiors.

In the mid 19th century, John’s son James Hugh had the formal gardens laid out, started the arboretum, and had the orangery built.

Nothing if not competitive, the Smith-Barrys set out to make the arboretum one of the finest in these islands. Two subsequent generations continued to add to the collection of over 1,000 different species of trees and shrubs.

Some of the oldest trees in the collection are among the earliest recorded introductions, as plant hunters brought back seeds and specimens from all over the world. There are wonderful collections of acers, magnolias and rhododendrons among the stately trees, and the curious fernery beside the gate was a traditional place for dalliance.

The two walled gardens beside the house have recently been restored. The rose garden has been planted in an open layout, with beds of modern hybrid tea roses in blocks of colour around a circular central feature; the borders around the walls are mainly reserved for herbaceous planting - there are zingy yellow and blue planting combinations with agapanthus, crocosmia, day lilies, yellow clematis and golden hops combined with the startling blue berries of dianella.

Rambling roses are once again scrambling up the walls and there is an interesting section of new grasses, unfortunately not all labelled for the benefit of enthusiasts: among them Phormium‘Rainbow Maiden’, Miscanthus‘Zebra’ and a collection of old roses -‘Madame Isaac Perrier’, ‘Reine des Violettes’ and ‘Baron Girod de l’Ain’ -and there are some jolly dahlias too.

In the walled garden beside the house, a sunken Italian garden dating from the early 19th century has been unearthed, restored and planted with jazzy annuals, while the herbaceous borders around the walls are planted Jekyll fashion with drifts of soft colours.

The south facing border has a more exotic scheme, with bananas flourishing among orange watsonias, agapanthus and hemerocallis.

Popular Fota with it’s wild life park has something for everyone, the house is open to the public, and there are tea rooms although the fare may not quite match up to the splendid surroundings.

Best time of year to visit: May, June, July, August

Groups & Tours

  • Groups Accepted
  • Groups Need Appointments
  • Accept Only Groups
  • Guided Tours

Tour Days:


Fota Arboretum & Gardens - Fota Island County Cork Ireland
Fota Arboretum & Gardens - Fota Island County Cork Ireland
Fota Arboretum & Gardens - Fota Island County Cork Ireland
Fota Arboretum & Gardens - Fota Island County Cork Ireland
Fota Arboretum & Gardens - Fota Island County Cork Ireland
Fota Arboretum & Gardens - Fota Island County Cork Ireland
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Fota House (in county Cork, Ireland) is situated on Fota Island which is 10km east of Cork City. To get to Fota Island take the N25 east from Cork City for about 7km and then exit the N25 heading for Cobh/Carrigtwohill on the R624. Fota Island is about 2.5km on the right.

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