Some gardens take your breath away. Whether through sophisticated planting design, clever colour or material use, fascinating historical contexts or spectacular visual settings; some gardens just shine brighter than others. Anyone that has ever visited the Lissadell house gardens will know what I mean. Set smack bang on the edge of the wild Atlantic coast, the house, which sits surrounded by sloping pastures and lush woodland leads the eye over undulating limestone walls, across mounded floriferous gardens to Drumcliffe Bay and all the way beyond- to the magnificent rise of Benbulben mountain.
The house, grey and austere in its neo-classical Greek revivalist style, was the childhood home of Irish revolutionary and the first female cabinet minister in Europe Constance Gore-Booth, her sister the poet and suffragist, Eva Gore-Booth, and their siblings. It is of course also known to have been a favourite stay of the world-renowned poet, William B. Yeats who spent childhood holidays at the house with his brother Jack B Yeats and became friends with the Gore-Booth sisters Constance and Eva. Today the house is home to Edward Walsh, his wife Constance Cassidy and their seven children who bought Lissadell in December 2003. Resolved to bring the estate back to its original glory the family knows first-hand the magic which Lissadell holds. A location steeped in history and with the most stunning setting, the family have spent many years slowly and lovingly restoring, redesigning, and replanting at and in the house and gardens. For me, one of the most fascinating things about places with so much history from a garden perspective is how the layers of design and planting touches which the owners and every gardener, designer and horticulturist who worked here over the many years are apparent in the gardens.