As Autumn arrives, one of the pleasures of this season is seeing the trees turning from summer green to reds, oranges, and yellows. While we may not have the breadth of displays that you would find, for example, in New England, there are plenty of places in Ireland to enjoy colourful fall foliage displays. Don’t Miss These Places to See Amazing Autumn Leaves in Ireland!
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Places to See Amazing Autumn Leaves Ireland
Coole Park, Galway
Home to a beautiful walled garden with the famous Autograph Tree, a beech tree which turns a magnificent bronze colour in autumn, Coole Park and the Garryland Nature Reserve are a delight to visit at any time during the year. But come Autumn, when the leaves start to fall and the lake has refilled, it is particularly beautiful. There are woods to explore and designated walkways with distances shown for each one.
The woods themselves are a traffic free zone, so the kids can roam safely. See if you can spot the deer in the enclosure near the visitor centre, and you may be lucky enough to see some of the swans Yeats immortalised in his poetry on the Turlough.
Stop by the visitor centre is open, you can enjoy a free tour giving you a brief history of Coole Park and learn about Lady Gregory and her family. There is also a cafe and toilets on site.
Killarney National Park, Kerry
Killarney National Park is spectacular all year round but in autumn, it’s even more enjoyable as the there are less visitors about and you can enjoy some of Ireland’s oldest, native oak and yew woodlands, remnants of ancient forests.
With Torc Waterfall, Muckross Gardens, lakes galore and the McGillycuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range, you will be spoiled for choice for a family walk in Killarney National Park.
One of our favourites is the walk from Muckross House to Torc Waterfall, which consists of paved and clay walkways. The loop is approximately 4km and is signposted off the main Muckross Lake Loop walk. Be sure to look out for deer and squirrels, who roam freely in the park.
Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford
The gardens at Johnstown Castle Estate were designed by Daniel Robertson, who also designed the gardens at Powerscourt Estate in neighbouring Wicklow. They are home to over 200 varieties of trees and shrubs making them the perfect place for an Autumn visit to enjoy all the changing colours of the leaves.
Be sure to stroll around the lakes and if the weather permits, visit the playground and see if you can spot some of the peacocks who roam around the estate and also offer a riot of colour when they fan their tail feathers.
The grounds are open year round and there is no need to book ahead.
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Strokestown Park, Roscommon
Strokestown Park is a the perfect location to enjoy an Autumn stroll with the family. Adjacent to Strokestown Park House sits a mature woodland, first planted by Thomas Mahon in the early 1700’s.
You will see some beautiful Beech and Oak trees along with many other varieties of trees and plants. There is a wonderful woodland walk, where you will enjoy glimpses of the house and and parkland surrounding it.
The park and house are open year round but do check opening times before visiting.
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Fota House and Gardens, Cork
Fota House, Gardens and Arboretum in Cork are open year round for you to enjoy. The warm soil (Fód te) make them the perfect place for the growing and cultivation of rare trees and exotic plants.
You will find varieties from America, South America and Asia Pacific regions sitting alongside more traditional varieties from Europe. The gardens not only look stunning but are an amazing educational resource offering one of the finest collections of rare trees, plants and shrubs in Europe.
In addition you can enjoy events in the gardens throughout the year. Be sure to visit the palm walk, orangery and Victorian fernery when you are there. And look out for the many birds and creatures that live in and around the gardens and woodlands.
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Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon
Lough Key Forest Park is fabulous for autumn colour and a great place to explore with its lake and acres of grounds. It is the ideal place for walks with the family as it has established walking and cycle routes and trails, each with a difficulty level and the expected time it will take to complete.
As there is no traffic, it is also totally safe to let the kids run ahead and explore the many different trees and plants that surround you. And best of all they have toilets and a café on-site for a hot drink afterwards.
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Hazelwood Demesne, Sligo
The Hazelwood Demesne offers picturesque walks, suitable for all the family, around the shores of Lough Gill in Sligo. These are particularly pretty in autumn, when you get a variety of reds, oranges and yellows on the trees. Kids will love to kick their way through the fallen leaves and you can enjoy watching the ever changing reflection of trees and clouds in the waters of Lough Gill.
There are several different walks, including the ‘Sculpture Tour’ where you will find wooden sculptures from Irish and international artists running alongside the track.
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Birr Castle & Gardens, Offaly
Birr Castle and Gardens offers an experience of discovery for the whole family. It is home to extensive gardens and parkland with many water features.
There is an abundance of rare trees and plants gathered from around the world within the 50 hectare site. During the Autumn you can appreciate the spectacular beauty of the changing colours of the season reflected in the trees throughout the gardens and surrounding parklands.
In addition, kids will adore Ireland’s tallest tree house, and the play area, and a visit to the historic Science Centre and the great telescope from the 1840s. There is also a lovely café on site.
When you arrive for your family walk be sure to pick up your Family Quest sheet and follow the clues!
There is a charge to visit Birr Castle & Gardens and to take part in some of the organised activities.
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Tollymore Forest Park, Northern Ireland
Tollymore Forest Park near Newcastle sits at the base of the Mourne Mountains and has no less than 16 bridges crossing the river Shimna, which flows through the park.
There are four designated tree-lined walking trails, the longest of which is 8km and the shortest is just 1km. All the trails are clearly marked and begin and end in the car park. Keep an eye out for the elusive red squirrels as you go. Look out for trees such as cedars, eucalyptus, monkey puzzle, Monterey pines and tall Redwood trees.
Phoenix Park, Dublin
The Phoenix Park in Dublin offers nature in an urban setting and families have enjoyed spending time there for many years. It is the largest enclosed park in any capital city in Europe and is home to an amazing array of trees, plants and wildlife, including a large herd of fallow deer.
You can enjoy walking or cycling through the Phoenix Park where you will see the many colours of the Autumn leaves on the trees and plants. And enjoy a visit to the People’s Gardens, a 22 acre site planted in Victorian style with a playground and large ornamental lake to enjoy.
Access to the park and gardens in free for everyone and look out for the regular events held at the park throughout the year.
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Glendalough (Gleann dá Loch, meaning ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’) is one of the most picturesque spots in Ireland. With two dark and mysterious lakes tucked into a long, glacial valley fringed by forest. In autumn it’s particularly spectacular as the trees turn red and gold and the reflections in the lake make beautiful picture opportunities.
There’s a 1000-year-old round tower, a ruined cathedral and the tiny church dating from the late 6th century known as St Kevin’s Kitchen. Amenities include toilets and disabled toilets, self-guiding trail, outdoor picnic tables, extensive lawns. Paid car parking in operation.
Botanic Gardens Dublin & Wicklow
As you would imagine Autumn in the Botanic gardens in both Glasnevin, Dublin and Kilmacurragh, Wicklow is a truly incredible experience.
They host special guided Autumn walks through the wooded areas and herbaceous borders so you can savour the seasonal colours of the Autumn leaves and view some of the sculptures dotted throughout the gardens along the way.
Irish National Stud and Gardens, Kildare
The Irish National Stud & Gardens in Kildare Town is just off the M7 motorway and only 30 minutes by car from Dublin and the M50.
The Irish National Stud offers an unforgettable family walking experience in 800 acres of beautiful Kildare countryside that can be enjoyed by all ages.
It is especially beautiful in Autumn when you can see the Autumn leaves change colours in the iconic Japanese Gardens and St Fiachra’s Garden and enjoy the magical ‘fairy trail’ in the woodland area.
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Mount Usher Gardens, Wicklow
Mount Usher near Ashford, just 35 mins south of Dublin, is bursting with colour in the autumn. The Maple Walk is particularly stunning as the Japanese Maples and the Golden Larch are ablaze with colour. You can pick up a detailed tree trail guide to help you locate the many ‘show-stoppers’ as you wander around.
There’s also Avoca Garden Café and Courtyard Shops to enjoy after the gardens. The car park can get very busy at peak times, but there is additional parking in the village a short walking distance away.
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Powerscourt Estate, Wicklow
A visit to Powerscourt Estate is stunning at any time of year but the estate is particularly beautiful during the Autumn when the many trees and shrubs are changing colour. The gardens have been voted by National Geographic as the no 3 garden in the world to visit.
From your arrival along the beech lined drive, planted more than 250 years ago, to the stunning trees that frame the Triton Lake there are hundreds of species from around the world to enjoy. You can expect to see shades of browns, reds & pinks throughout the estate.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to Powerscourt Waterfall. There’s a trail through the Waterfall which will lead you along woodland paths, over rivers and past hundreds of different kinds of trees. When you first walk towards the Waterfall, your breath will be taken away by the sight of the giant Redwood Trees which tower above the landscape and are a sight to behold in autumn. A great place to take the kids out of the house on a nice autumn’s day!
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Mount Stewart Gardens, Down NI
Mount Stewart, recently voted in the top ten gardens in the world, is one of the most spectacular and idiosyncratic gardens of Western Europe. In autumn time, the trees offer stunning golds, bronzes and russet reds. There are lots of things for families with kids to see and do at Mount Stewart.
- Kids can explore the Natural Play Area themed around the journeys, adventures and creatures found in ‘The Magic Ink Pot’, unique to Mount Stewart.
- Tracker packs are available to borrow from the reception desk, with Mount Stewart themed activities in a small backpack easy to transport from one part of the garden to the next.
- The ark in the Italian garden at Mount Stewart is full of some very strange and exotic animals. You can download an activity sheet and see if you can track down all the animals.
- Enjoy walking trails and Red Squirrel Trails and keep your eye out for those cute little critters.
Dun a Rí Forest Park, Cavan
Dun a Rí Forest Park near Kingscourt is a beautiful spot sitting on the banks of the River Cabra, where Cuchulain is said to have camped at night while defending Ulster against the armies of Maeve.
This is the perfect spot to enjoy autumn leaves overlooking the river, or take a walk on many of the trails through the park and over bridges – there’s even a wishing well! The Forest Park has four signposted walks, ranging from 1km to 2km in length.
Native Tree Trails, Dublin
There are seven Native Tree Trails in Dublin City Council Parks, a great way to explore the parks with kids this autumn. Four are located on the southside of the city in:
- Bushy Park, Terenure
- Markievicz Park, Ballyfermot
- Herbert Park, Ballsbridge
- Lansdowne Valley Park, Inchicore
And three on Dublin’s northside:
- Poppintree Park, Ballymun
- Johnstown Park, Finglas
- Albert College Park, Glasnevin
The Tree Trails will help to introduce you to a selection of Ireland’s native trees. In each park, there are 15 native trees with information signposts.
You can download or print off a native tree trail for the park you are visiting and use that to navigate your way around the park. Each trail has its own booklet complete with a trail map and is packed with interesting and fun facts about native trees as well as plenty of space to sketch your tree discoveries.
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Over to you now. Is there another place you have found to enjoy autumn leaves in Ireland? Tell us in the comments below.