SAINT MARTIN’S WALLED GARDEN
If you are looking for a place to explore the history and beauty of Galway, you might want to visit Saint Martin’s Walled Garden near the village of Eyrecourt. This garden was constructed in 1770 and consists of a series of courtyards and arcaded elements with a promenade, cascade of steps and fanciful outbuildings and turrets, making it one of the most interesting and unusual architectural ensembles in the county.
The garden was built by John D’Arcy, a member of one of the Galway Tribes, who owned the nearby Eyrecourt Castle. He named it after his patron saint, Saint Martin of Tours, who was known for his generosity and compassion. The garden was designed to be a place of leisure and pleasure, where D’Arcy could entertain his guests and enjoy the fruits of his land. The garden had a variety of plants and flowers, as well as hothouses where exotic fruits such as pineapples, grapes and melons were grown.
The garden also had a connection to another famous Galway family, the Gregorys. Lady Augusta Gregory, who was a prominent figure in the Irish Literary Revival and a friend of William Butler Yeats, was born in Roxborough House near Loughrea in 1852. She was a descendant of John D’Arcy’s son, Hyacinth D’Arcy, who inherited Eyrecourt Castle and Saint Martin’s Walled Garden. Lady Gregory visited the garden in her childhood and later wrote about it in her autobiography.
Unfortunately, the garden fell into ruin after the D’Arcy family sold Eyrecourt Castle in 1925. The castle was demolished in 1975 and the garden was left to decay. Today, the garden is privately owned and not open to the public, but it can be seen from the roadside or with the landowner’s permission. It is a testament to the gardening history of Galway and a reminder of the rich cultural heritage that the D’Arcy and Gregory families left behind.
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