National Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh

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The gardens were founded in 1712 as part of the Acton family estate who owned the land until 1940. Today, the gardens are in State ownership through the Office of Public Works. They were acquired in 1976 by the Land commissioner and day-to-day management transferred to National Botanic Gardens in 1996. The story of Kilmacurragh stretches back beyond the establishment of the gardens to early Christian times. A lake, part of which remains as a small pond, once existed as a fishing pond for a monastery that stood where the remains of the Acton family home stand today. This monastery was dissolved by Henry VII. Thomas Acton and his sister Jane Acton were behind establishment of the gardens, subscribing to plant hunting expeditions and utilising contacts in botanical gardens and nurseries around the globe to acquire exotic seeds for the gardens. The gardens were the showpiece of the rare Irish Queen Anne style house, the home of the Acton family. The Rhododendron walks were developed through a friendship with David Moore the curator of the National Botanic Garden’s at Glasnevin. This led to Kilmacurragh becoming the home to the national rhododendron collection. Further Kilmacurragh, whose acidic brown soil, low rainfall and mild winters, become the home of many specimens that were struggling or failing at Glasnevin. Many of the species grown in the gardens are so rare that they may be the only one or two of their kind in Europe or even the Northern Hemisphere

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