Westaston Estate at Kilmacurragh
The Westaston Estate at Kilmacurragh was owned for almost three centuries by the Acton family. They developed parklands in the Victorian era and planted an arboretum. That is now the main attraction at Kilmacurragh, managed for the OPW by the National Botanic Gardens.
In the past, the Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin, Dublin helped the Actons. Plants from abroad thrived in the Wicklow soil and climate. Kilmacurragh gained international fame as a great Irish garden, renowned for conifers. Also notable are calcifuges, mainly rhododendron which need acid soil.
There are many walks on avenues and paths. Follow the numbers on the visitors' leaflet pointing to remarkable shrubs and champion trees. From the car park, a path leads around a pond past the ruined Acton house.
A mound of stones marks the monks' grave, a reminder that Kilmacurragh was named after an ancient hermitage. Walk on a pilgrim route along a path near the Coillte nurseries. Thanks to Seamus O'Brien, head gardener.
More: Kilmacurragh visitors' guide from OPW, www.botanicgardens.ie, OS Discovery maps 56 and 62. Access from N11, turn right opposite Beehive pub, near Kilbride, continue for three kilometres. Guided tours. Tel 0404 48844