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Walled Garden

Walled Garden


The Walled Garden occupies an area of ca. 0.90ha (2.158 acres) & is completely surrounded by stone walls. It was positioned close to the family house, to the east side of the other buildings, which helped to protect it from the prevailing westerly winds.


The garden is rectangular in shape with a widening west end. The west wall is nearly twice as long as the east wall with the north wall the longest, designed purposely to catch maximum sun for the plants.


The orientation of the garden was designed to give the contents the benefits of the most favourable weather conditions. The original layout was a conventional one of paths running round the garden parallel to the walls, with a centre path running from north to south and a cross-path running from east to west dividing the garden into four planted sections.


The original garden was likely to be unassuming, specifically for day to day produce of fruit, flowers and vegetables.

Revival of Garden

Re-design of the Garden

Prior to the commencement of restoration works a decision was made to redesign the Vandeleur Walled Garden for the 21st Century rather then recreating the original. The redesign does incorporate the old path system but now contains many unusual and tender plants that thrive in the area’s uniquely western latitude microclimate. In keeping with the modern theme there is a contemporary and dramatic red theme (eg. red pillar water feature, red summer house) throughout the garden ensuring colour all year round.


The Re-development of the Garden began in 1997. In Spring 2000 the replanting of the borders that line the wall began. It was first opened to the public in September 2000 with the first paying visitor in May 2001.



Planting on the West Wall Border-North End

The west wall border-north end is planted mostly with white flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants ilncluding Eucomia bicolor, Pseudowintera colorata, Libertia grandiflora, Galega officinalis and Leucothae walteri. At the entrance to this border is a Sarcococca confusa, the first plant to be replanted in the garden by Peter & Wendy Vandeleur, Australia.



During the Vandeleur times this was part of a storm drain that came through the garden. The well was catchment area for water for the garden.



Planting along North Wall West End and East End

A south facing wall, this wall has a distinctive curve in it to maximise the area where a large amount of plants can be planted and benefit from full sunlight both in front and against the wall. Consequently there is a selection of tender plants along this border such as Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’, Musa basjoo (Banana), Cestrum roseum ‘Illnacullin’, Echium pininana, Melianthus major, Correa backhousiana, Euphorbia mellifora, Leptospermum scoparium, and Accacia pravissima.



There are still remains of plaster on the North wall. This marks the location of a lean-to heated glasshouse from the Vandeleur time and would have been the only internal building in the garden.  We know about the heating by the fact that there are some old iron pipes coming out at the other side of the wall where the boiler would havbe been. Fruit and cut flowers would have been grown in this glasshouse.


Hebe Collection

With the garden's microclimate, a display of more tender species was planted here. These species of Hebe's are a native of New Zeeland. It is quite tender to frost but resistant to salt air. 


Bedding Displays

The outline of the circular bed and both triangular beds were discovered when restoration of the garden began. It is thought that an ornamental display of plants rather than vegetables would have been planted in these beds in the original garden. Planting in these bedding displays now reflects the red theme in the garden.


Daisy Beds

These are a new addition and would not have been there in Vandeleur times.  



Planting along the East Wall and South Wall

Planting along the East Wall is dominated by red flowering plants complimenting the red pillars of the Summer House. This wall provides ideal conditions to display a selection of tender and semi-tender plants. It is hoped that the exuberant growth in the rich dark reds and vivid greens will transport visitors to the tropics. Plants in this area include Musa basjoo ( Banana), Tracycarpus fortuenii, Lobelia tupa. 


In contrast the South Wall is quite shaded. Indeed in winter it gets hardly any sun at all. Consequently shade loving plants are planted along this border including a range of Sinanundinaria murielae, Athyrium nippanicum, Geraniums, Hydrangea, Ferns and Irises.


Summer House

This is a new feature introduced with the redesign of the garden. It offers visitors an escape from the sometimes inclement Irish weather, is the perfect location from which to reflect on the history contained within the walls and enjoy the many views of the garden. It is wheelchair accessible.



The Horizontal Maze is a little unusual in that it is on the flat, whereas normally a maze is upright. This area also services as a focal point for outdoor events.

The Beech Maze is a more traditional mazeplanted with beech trees.


Beech Walk

The false red door half way along the South Wall border would have been the main entrance into the garden from Kilrush House. (There would also have been entrances in the south and north walls). This entrance is now blocked up and instead the Beech Walk now defines the pathway that would have led the Vandeleur Family into the garden. These Beech trees have been trained in the espalier fashion. This espalier training is more common with fruit trees.



Planting along West Wall South End

Planting along the West Wall South End is dominated by a range of plants the have yellow flowers or variegated foliage including Hammellis xintermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ (Witch Hazel), Mahonia lomariifolia both of which are strongly scented in spring.



An Arboretum is an area where a collection of trees is planted. The Trees planted in this small Arboretum are Taxus baccata, Acer davidii, Eucalyptus, Pinus pinnata, Cherry, Mountain Ash and Oak. These trees have been chosen for their bark and autumn colour. Latest additions are a Monkeypuzzle Tree and a Sweet Chestnut Tree.


Vandeleur Crest

As part of the redesign, the Vandeleur family crest was incorporated into this port hole feature. The name of the bird on the crest of the arms of the Vandeleur Family is a Martlet purp holding in its beak a trefoil. 


Historical Survey


The original member of the Vandeleur family in Ireland was said to have been a Dutch merchant, Maximillian Van der Leur, who was based in Sixmilebridge during the early 17th century. The Vandeleur’s established their seat in Kilrush in 1687 when the Reverend John Vandeleur became rector of Kilrush. In 1712 several townlands in the vicinity of Kilrush were leased from the Earl of Thomond and later purchased by John Vandeleur, son of Rev. John Vandeleur in 1749. The walled demesne became the core of their property consisting of 175ha (420 acres). The Vandeleur family became extremely influential during the late 18th and the 19th century, representing the county in parliament and encouraging development in the town.


It is probable that the demesne was laid out during the lifetime of Crofton Vandeleur who died in 1795, as the planned landscape has an unmistakable late 18th century framework of shelter belts, woodland & pasture set out conforming to the lie of the land. Kilrush House, begun by Crofton, was completed in 1808. It was a classical styte house with three stories, a basement and the 86 windows were often mentioned with admiration. The house faced south west on an elevated spot commanding extensive views of the Shannon and the Clare and Kerry shores. It can be assumed that the out buildings of stables, farm and walled garden for the demesne are contemporary with the house. These buildings were noted for their fine construction and good quality stone. The stone used is probably local with quarries nearby Knockeragh, Moneypoint, Crag and Tullagower.


Major development took place during the period that John Ormsby Vandeleur was head of the family until 1828. The family was at the height of its fortune & major improvement of the demesne & of the town took place during that time. During the middle years of the 19th century the demesne continued to develop under Col. Crofton Moore Vandeleur, who was M.P for Kilrush from 1859 to 1874.  A decline in the fortunes of the family ensued after his death and the dislike of the house by the wife of Capt. Hector Stewart Vandeleur. This generation did not live at Kilrush with the family having other homes in Dublin and London. It is likely that the walled garden was kept up to a certain standard against the day of family visits or to provide produce to send to Dublin.


John Ormsby Vandeleur

The Vandeleurs, as landlords lost lands during the Land Acts and the family moved to Cahircon, near Kildysart. In 1897 the house was badly damaged by fire. Hector Steward died in 1909 and his heir, Capt. Alexander Vandeleur was killed in action in the First World War.


During the Land Commission of the 1920’s the Department of Forestry took over the estate, they planted trees in the demesne & it was under their direction that the remains of the house were removed in 1973, following an accident in the ruins. Today the top car park is laid over the site of the house.










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