Land of the Horse

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The Irish National Stud & Gardens, County Kildare

Racing legends, stellar stallions and future champions: the Irish National Stud is the perfect springtime attraction

Ireland in the spring means snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells pushing through lush green landscapes. And while Mother Nature is doing her thing, the folks at the Irish National Stud and Gardens in Tully, County Kildare, are busy carrying on their tradition of equestrian excellence, welcoming up to 250 foals to the world.

A star-gazing Colonel

It all started over a century ago when Colonel William Hall Walker founded his working stud farm in County Kildare. The eccentric Colonel had his own unique method of choosing champions. Thanks to his love of astrology, he would look to the stars to gauge a new foal’s racing potential. If he didn't like what he saw, the foal would be sold immediately, regardless of bloodline. Despite his strange methods, he went on to become one of the most successful breeders of the age and his whimsical fingerprints are all over the stud (including skylights in the stables so the horses can see the stars).

If you want to see the National Stud at its best, come in springtime (February to March) when you’ll arrive during peak foaling season. You can feel the excitement in the air as the maternity wing buzzes with activity and the staff readies itself to deal with multiple births each day. The end result? Nursery paddocks full of newly-born foals dashing around after their mothers – now that’s a sight the Colonel would be proud of!

From horses to horticulture

Not content with keeping his pact with the stars at the stud, the Colonel also indulged his love of horticulture at the magnificent Japanese Gardens next door. Known as the finest of their kind in Europe, these gardens are a natural wonderland that traces the 'Life of Man' from birth to afterlife.

Devised by the Colonel and created with the expertise of Japanese master horticulturalist, Tassa Eida, the gardens feature plants, stone lanterns and elegant Scots Pines, as well as cherry trees, tunnelled pathways and an ancient fir tree, symbolising knowledge. Spring brings vivid blossoms to life, just as the stud welcomes new life in its stables...

So don’t wait for summer, come and enjoy a host of new arrivals in Ireland's Ancient East this season.

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