Lockdown gardening seems to have gone one of two ways for people. There are those who have spent time improving, pruning and preening their outdoor space and then there are those who have finally had to reluctantly acknowledge the overgrown, unruly mess that is their backyard. The latter leading to despair and some serious procrastination. Whichever category you fall into, the beautiful gardens around Lough Derg are suited to everyone. Whether it be for inspiration or simply admiration, come to Lough Derg and immerse yourself in some perfect, luscious outdoor spaces for a day. Warning: these beautiful expanses will have you jumping to reimagine your backyard and dig in!
Portumna Castle and Gardens is a majestic sight. This verdant space details the history and culture of the early 1600s. The castles bold design combine elements of medieval and renaissance style that complement each other perfectly and this is reflected in the formal gardens, creating an enchanting sense of the original seventeenth-century setting. Let your children roam free, playing make-believe and posing as princesses and princes from times past as they frolic around the perfectly manicured lawns.
A really amazing aspect of this idyllic place are the walled kitchen gardens. There are fruit and vegetables, a willow maze in the summer, plants big and small and gazebos and arches dotted around. The garden offers you an ideal opportunity to see and experience gardening layout and techniques of yesteryear. This is a testament to community dedication and gardeners commitment to the upkeep of such a diverse range of plants. Stroll around and take In all of the magnificent fauna. If you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of the squirrel inhabitants. After exploring to your hearts content, head to the cafe and grab a bite to eat and some coffee. Sit at one of the benches and breathe in the historical charm and alluring formal gardens.
Another breathtaking outdoor space on the shores of Lough Derg is the Mountshannon Maze, this place offers a different experience to the Portumna castle and gardens. Head to Mountshannon and wander through an exploration of Irish spirituality over the course of 9000 years. The maze depicts a pilgrimage through time featuring information about the development of the Irish spiritual tradition. As you travel through, there are information boards and sculptures, pause and reflect as you update your knowledge on a sometimes forgotten aspect of Irish times past. This is the perfect place to have a picnic in the sun with your family. Children absolutely love playing hide and go seek in the maze, its the perfect place, endless hours of entertainment!
Now, for a special one for the little ones. Birdhill Children’s Park is a Woodland Park full to the brim with intriguing mysteries and exciting possibilities. Learn about the Tuatha de Danann and the animal friends of the fairy folk. You can bring a picnic and dine in the rose garden, spy on a fairy council meeting before you head over to the wishing chair to close your eyes and think very hard about what it is you want to wish for. Find all the fairy homes; they are up high and down low and pick your favourite.
In the centre of the woodland, there is a “Nook”. A space where you can retreat to for quiet time- and still see everything that’s going on, some of the windows look right out on the Fairy council. “The Nook”, is a safe retreat for children who may be experiencing sensory overload as this is an Autism-friendly play area, an integral element of Irelands first autism-friendly village.
Lough Derg has ample beautiful outdoor spaces, each a unique and harmonious reflection of the nature that surrounds us. Step away from the hustle and bustle of every day life and give your mind the gift of serene views, extraordinary landscapes and exquisite flora.
A few spots to have a look at on your travels…
Modena restaurant – for a delicious Indian evening meal and great professional service make sure to stop by the Modena restaurant in Portumna.
Bethlehem Restaurant in Portumna is known for its friendly welcome and mouth-watering pizza.
Matt The Thresher Inn in Birdhill focuses on being a relaxed place to eat and drink, offering the best Irish fish they can buy.
The Old Barracks in Birdhill is an Artisan Coffee roastery with a contemporary vibe and glorious views of the surrounding countryside.
Under The Oak in Mountshannon is a quaint family run cafe at the heart of Lough Derg, surrounded by gorgeous old Oak trees.
Blas Cafe this pet friendly cafe in Portumna is known for serving some of the most flavour filled brunches and lunches that the Lough Derg region has to offer.
Podumna Village Set in Heart of Portumna Town, Co. Galway. Podumna offers visitors a very rare and unique experience, all the fun and feel of a woodland setting with the added convenience of a Town central location.
Shannon Oaks Apartments in Portumna are a great self-catering option. They are spacious, clean and newly renovated to a high standard.