After a recent visit, I reckon that a tour of the Irish National Stud is now possibly one of my favourite days out! A trip here will remind you of the innate connection that we, the Irish people have with the horse and all the excitement and passion that go along with this beautiful animal – the various industries, entertainment, international relationships with other appreciative countries, the value to our economy and the sheer love for these four-legged prima donnas.
Having not visited this Government-owned facility since I was a child, I was prompted to visit with the arrival of Hurricane Fly. Why such a big deal about Hurricane Fly? Well, I just have a soft spot for this spirited fella; his determination and character have put a smile on many people’s faces and I felt it would be a lovely opportunity to see him in a relaxed environment such as the Living Legends paddock at the Stud.
Tucked away just off junction 13 on the M8, along the approach roads the post and rail fencing pops up, the grass appears to be perfectly mowed and the roads even seem to take on a smoother finish! Reception staff couldn’t be more friendly and helpful. Free tours are hosted each day and based on my visit, these really add to the experience of the trip. It was on my tour that David our guide, casually mentioned that they received 27,000 tweets upon Hurricane Fly’s arrival to the Stud, so I am not alone in my admiration for The Fly!
Timing my visit quite well, the sun was shining, families on Easter holidays; springtime at the Stud really is quite special. Not only are the Cherry Blossoms, Daffodils and Weeping Willow’s looking well, but it is also foaling season and the magic of leggy, wobbly little foals at mums foot, learning more about their new world will be sure to put a smile on everyone’s face!
If horses aren’t your thing, I urge you to consider visiting even for the Japanese Gardens. As with all things Japanese, these are not sprawling gardens, they are compact and they fit a lot in! The gardens are simply magical as they take you on the journey of life, offering a chance for both smallies and grown-ups to clamber up stone steps, through tunnels, hop on rocks over gently flowing water and see the iconic red Bridge of Life.
Having worked up an appetite walking through the Stud and Gardens, there is a lovely restaurant with the option to eat al fresco on a sheltered Japanese style veranda or in the airy & light restaurant itself.
If you are interested in nature, our countryside, gardens, history or even a teensy tiny bit of an interest in horses you will greatly enjoy the National Stud & Japanese Gardens.
Kildare Village even offers a complimentary shuttle bus service from Kildare train station to the Stud.
Another great day out if you are into horses is the Slieve Aughty centre near Loughrea in Galway. Different to the National Stud, Slieve Aughty is hidden away in the hills outside of Loughrea in Galway. The horses are the stars here but the outdoor clay oven will keep you hanging around well after your hack finishes as delicious pizzas are passes around! Read on here: