The National Botanic Gardens – Dublin
The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland are an oasis of calm and beauty, and entry is free. A premier scientific institution, the gardens contain important collections of plant species and cultivars from all over the world. The National Botanic Gardens in Dublin are located in Glasnevin, just three kilometres from Dublin City Centre, and are famous for the exquisitely restored historic glasshouses. The National Botanic Gardens in Wicklow are located in Kilmacurragh, where the milder climate, higher rainfall, and deeper, acidic soils of this historic Wicklow garden, provide a counterpoint to the collections at Glasnevin. The two gardens have been closely associated since 1854.
The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland are operated and managed by the Office of Public Works.
In 1790, the Irish Parliament, with the active support of the Speaker of the House, John Foster, granted funds to the Dublin Society (now the Royal Dublin Society), to establish a public botanic garden.
In 1795, the Gardens were founded on lands at Glasnevin. The portrait of John Foster (below right) by William Beechey (1813) in Leinster House shows him sitting at his desk holding a map of the Botanic Gardens. The original purpose of the Gardens was to promote a scientific approach to the study of agriculture. In its early years the Gardens demonstrated plants that were useful for animal and human food and medicine and for dyeing but it also grew plants that promoted an understanding of systematic botany or were simply beautiful or interesting in themselves.