Irish National Stud, Co Kildare.
Today I want to bring you for a stroll in the heartland of County Kildare to visit the Irish National Stud .
As you know horse racing, show jumping and the skills of horse breeding are hugely important in Ireland . Ireland’s horse heritage has developed from folklore, legends and High Kings and through the generations it’s importance has been recognised . The stud farm was first founded in 1916 as a place of excellence in the world’s Thoroughbred industry . It was taken over by the state in 1946 and its official name is Comhlacht Graí Náisiúnta na hÉireann Teo – the Irish National Stud . It is a wonderful thing that it is open to the public for us to enjoy.
The stud is located about a 45 minute drive from Dublin and close by to the famous monastic settlement and holy well that was founded by St Brigid in the 5th Century . Brigid is not only Irelands lady patron saint but also the patron saint of livestock and blacksmithing .. so, it seems right that we are walking within her shadow !
Let’s park the car and take a look around . As it is November there are few people around but at least the day is bright and dry, perfect for a stroll. Let’s pay our admission fee and have a look .
The first thing that we see are the beautifully laid out gardens and buildings . These were laid out by the original owner Colonel William Hall – Walker, a wealthy Scotsman of a famous brewery family who lived on the property until 1916 . It’s great to see so many flowers still in bloom this late in the year and there are ducks and swans out enjoying the winter sunshine !
Let’s stop to admire the full sized statue of a racehorse that is carved from black Kilkenny marble in Bas relief . I love the way his nose has developed a polish from the thousands of hands that have rubbed it .
Nearby there is the horse museum that traces the history of horse racing and has on display the skeleton of Arkle – Ireland’s most famous racehorse who won just about every race in the 1960’s .
As I mentioned earlier , we are close to St Brigid’s monastic settlement and located on the property are the ruins of the black abbey , which I guess must have been associated with the saint many years ago.
We pass the foaling boxes but all are empty as the foaling season begins in spring and we are told this is the best time to come visit . At the top of the hill are the stud’s most prized possessions – the world’s finest Stallions . All of them have been huge prize winners during their racing career and are now available to pass their bloodlines to a new generation of racehorses. We can see just one Stallion having his lunch – the rest are outside in the paddocks enjoying the sunshine.
Once again, we are told that the breeding season is in springtime, so the Stallions are at leisure at this time of the year.
Come along with me to the paddocks. As we stroll along, we can see some of the stallions out in their weatherproof coats ( frankly they look like a duvet with legs sticking out ) .. but I guess that multi million horses can’t catch a cold . They are happy to graze away and unfortunately none came up to us so we can say hello.
Its starting to turn chilly, so we had better turn back . I think its high time for a bite of lunch and a warm cup of tea, so let’s stop in the restaurant for refreshment. There is a lovely new shop too, and well worth a visit.
Also there is a lovely Japanese gardens located within the Stud, this was created between 1906 and 1910 and although we won’t have time to visit today, I will highly recommend you take a stroll through this enchanting place when you next come to visit in person.
I will know better next time to bring you here during spring and summer when the Stud is busy and there will be lots more to see; but I hope that you enjoyed coming along with me today.
Take care and see you next weekend,
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