Our last stop in Ireland before heading to the airport to fly to England is Kildare. We had no specific plans in Kildare except for seeing St. Brigid’s Cathedral and the Irish National Stud & Gardens.
The Irish National Stud & Gardens is home of internationally known thoroughbred racehorses and a magnificent Japanese garden. The farm was purchased in 1900 by Colonel William Hall Walker. Hall Walker, a prominent Scot, became the most successful breeder of the age, enjoying his finest hour when King Edward VII led Minoru, born and raised at the farm, into Epsom’s winners’ enclosure following a famous victory in the 1909 Derby. The farm continues to produce winners to this day.
We were fortunate to have a lovely day to tour the grounds and gardens. Our tour of the grounds took us around the pastures of some of Ireland’s finest winning racehorses now at the farm to retire into the business of breeding future generations of winners. It was amazing to be so close to some of the finest horses. As you walk down the lanes with stallions on either side, you will notice a sign on each fence with the horse’s name and their race record, lineage, any offspring and their race record, and what their current stud fee is. And just in case you missed it as you walked around, there is a summary on the wall by the stables. If you have a prize mare and £80,000 to give her a ‘nice’ date, she could be bred with Invincible Spirit. This stallion, as you could well imagine, is a serious money maker for the farm. While all stallions here for stud may not end their days at the farm, Invincible Spirit will; they have even erected a monument to the horse in front of his stable.
The Japanese gardens at the farm was created between the years 1906–1910 by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru. Their aim was, through trees, plants, flowers, lawns, rocks, and water, to symbolize the ‘Life of Man.’ The symbolism of life in the garden portrays traces the journey of a soul from Oblivion to Eternity and the human experience of its embodiment as it journeys by paths of its own choice through life. Typical ambitions toward education, marriage, or a contemplative or carefree life, achievement, happy old age and a gateway to Eternity are portrayed. As an example of Japanese gardening of its period, it is perfect – a Japanese Garden with a hint of Anglicization about it, was precisely the type of garden being made in Japan at that time. What a beautiful and peaceful place to walk around.
Before leaving the beauty and serenity of the Stud Farm and gardens, we partook in a wonderful lunch with a salad for me, and surprise, surprise, a pizza for Lucas. It must be because of all the wealthy horse owners that visit, but the lunch was a very pleasant surprise and would recommend the café to any who visit.
As I mentioned earlier, our only other intended sightseeing was to see the 13th century Cathedral Church of St. Brigid. Unfortunately, the cathedral was closed until the spring; maybe next visit. For now, it is time to move on and we will see you again in England!