The Liss Ard Gardens are two hundred acres of woodlands, lakes, waterfalls, and meadows. They are composed by man and nature alike. The gardens are a tribute to the wildness of Irish nature, placing man at the center. They encourage quiet contemplation, in areas created for tranquil solidarity. The gardens will reach full maturity in 30-50 years. They are an inviting place to explore the senses and bring peace to the mind.
The Liss Art Foundation was founded in 1990 by Veith Turske, and it continues to develop one of the most unique landscape projects in Ireland.
Built by a German family, this 6 million dollar estate is now Swiss-owned. If you are looking for a place in Ireland, it is up for sale...
To See and Do
How to get there
From Cork, travel south on the N71 to Skibbereen. Take R596 road to Castletownshend and look for Liss Ard Gardens on your right hand side.
See www.buseireann.ie website for all current travel details and restrictions.
Open daily 10AM to
We pull into the parking lot and tumble out of the car. It is 10AM, and the gates have just opened. I'm eager to check out Liss Ard Gardens, mainly because "Liss Ard" (or "Lizard") is my childhood nickname, lovingly given me by my sister Sandra.
My travel companion notices it's about to rain, and we agree not to stay out too long, otherwise we're in for a drenching. We set off on the paths and are soon separated toward our individual interests.
I hadn't anticipated such a long walk from the car to the actual gardens. A lone man is mowing the beautiful, grassy bank. I take a slightly inclined trail into the trees, avoiding the muddy patches. I end up with some mud on my toes because I'm wearing flip flops, annoyed that I left my rubber boots in the car. Soon I arrive at numbered signs pointed to different parts of the gardens.
The gardens are wild, though obviously thoughtfully planned. They feel composed equally by nature and man.
The Woodland Garden is a stone path speckled with green leaves through a twisted forest of moss-covered trees. It is absolutely breathtaking - a magical place of whispered spells and gnomes.
I exit the woods and enter the open, sunny Reed Beds on a grassy trail through blackberry bushes laden with bees. There are two standing stones tucked in the lush grasses. I spot a bench overlooking a lily-padded lake. Coming up the path is a man with a cane and two dogs sniffing the ground.
The man introduces himself as John, and we walk along the path together. He tells me the history of Liss Ard Gardens. He's recovering from a heart bypass and a broken leg. Now, at the age of eighty, he is rehabilitating his leg, "to get back to a good eighty," he says. He comes to the gardens every morning to walk, and goes walking every evening at Lough Hyne. He is lucky to have such a beautiful place to roam; I'm certain it accelerates the healing process.
The gardens are so enormous, it is easy to get lost. I wonder outloud where my travel companion is. I feel like Alice looking for the white rabbit. John and I are headed in the same direction, on the trail back to the parking lot.
Soon, my travel companion appears, coming up the trail behind us. "We're leading the search party," John says in greeting. The three of us enjoy our last moments of serenity.
These gardens are truly a place to keep coming back to. Maybe I'll make an offer on the place, I hear it's up for sale...