6th July 2012
Minister for OPW Brian Hayes TD Visits Historic Kilmacurragh House and Gardens
“Hidden Gem” has potential to greatly enhance tourism offering in Southeast Wicklow
The visit of Minister of State Brian Hayes TD, with responsibility for the Office of Public Works to Kilmacurragh Arboretum at Kilbride/Barndarrig(just 5minutes off N11) this week was welcomed by Deputy Andrew Doyle as it provided an opportunity for representatives from the OPW and the Botanic Gardens to demonstrate the attraction of this historic Wicklow garden and discuss how best to develop its tourism potential.
“The visit this week afforded the Minister and OPW the opportunity to discuss the development of the amenity since being taken over by the National Botanic Gardens in 1996 and the need to further enhance its development as a significant tourist attraction in Southeast Wicklow.
“Annual estimated visitor numbers of 50,000 have been achieved through the provision of free guided walks twice daily in the summer season (12&3pm)as well as providing seasonally guided themed guided tours and workshops all of which are advertised on the Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens website (http://www.botanicgardens.ie/kilmac/kilmhome.htm). Entrance to the gardens is free with lots of family–friendly events during the summer.
“Improved signage off the N11 and the need for a welcome area/tea rooms were highlighted as key to improving the tourist experience in Kilmacurragh and complementing the work done so far by the OPW to the old demesne which includes the old house, arboretum, entrance drive and woodlands and the provision of toilet facilities & improved carparking in the last year; all of which have encouraged visiting tour groups to include this as a stop on their visit to this part of Wicklow.
“The estate has a rich history as it was a seat for the Acton family for 3 centuries. The association of Kilmacurragh with the National Botanic Gardens began in 1854. Because of the specific climate and soil type, the gardens have significant horticultural and ecological uniqueness in Ireland and it is important to recognise the work of Seamus O’Brien and his team who manage and cultivate the estate so well.
“Located as it is in the southeast of Co. Wicklow, and as the centrepiece of an 18th century estate that once covered over 5,000 acres, Kilmacurragh merits inclusion on any tourist
itinerary but there are obvious modest improvements that are necessary to get it to that point. I will continue to work with the Minister to both promote awareness and to improve the facilities at Kilmacurragh and get it firmly on the tourist map for the County”.