**UPDATE** This article was written a few years ago when we first discovered Liss Ard. There are now some important guidelines for visiting the gardens and to see which days the gardens are open to non-residents, please visit their facebook page here.
Years ago, the children and I stumbled upon the Liss Ard Gardens, just out of Skibbereen, quite by accident. I had always presumed that the gardens were private and had been delighted to find out that they were in fact open to the public. Now, every so often, we love to re-discover the joys of Liss Ard and each year I am reminded by my 8 year old by how she felt tricked walking all that way as a 3 year old toddler only to discover that the ‘Talking Stones’ don’t actually say anything! The highlights (for us) are most definitely the bluebells in Spring and the Sky Garden Crater, but with acres of land with so many pathways, there really is something for everyone on a Liss Ard walk. The gardens are open every day, all year, until 11pm.
The Sky Garden was designed by James Turrell, the renowned American artist, who is best known for his works on the theme of ‘light’. It consists of a huge crater with a stone structure (slab) at the bottom of it. The crater was created for Irish skies to be contemplated and appreciated by the spectator lying flat on their back on the stone slab at the bottom of the crater.
The dome effect that is created in the elliptical frame is an unforgettable experience and is highly recommended. ((((((((( )))))))) due to damage to the slopes by climbing??? apointments now made?? The Gardens are free to explore but if you prefer to book a guided tour,especially of the Sky Garden, there is a cost of €5 per person. Bookings can be made by ringing 028-40000.
The gardens have been designed by Veith Turske and intend to bring out the unique relationship with nature allowing you to become the centre of perception. The garden has been created as a place of contemplation and of meditation and as their website states :
‘Liss Ard Gardens have a strong presence. These vast nature retreats are demanding, they want full attention. Attention to detail and awareness. For they reveal their inner beauty to those who can be present as well. Nature has extremes, it has power: this can only be experienced while opening our senses to everything it has to offer.’
Liss Ard is truly a place to inspire, learn tranquillity, to draw from the past, to fire the imagination and to nourish the senses. The designed pathways leading past numerous ponds, waterfalls and quiet spots, have been likened to the garden of Eden in some publications. Companies like Laura Ashley, Debenhams and K-Shoes have taken advantage of the beauty at Liss Ard to carry out photo shoots. Equally, the accommodation at Liss Ard has attracted a fair share of celebrities ranging from Van Morrision, Oasis, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Nick Cave – all of whom have spent time at Liss Ard.
For more information visit their website here.