The National Stud

Japanese Garden at the Irish National Stud Tully (County Kildare) IrelandIf you are interested in horses, one place you will certainly want to see is the Irish National Stud, based at Tully just outside the town. The valuable animals enjoy a standard of living many humans would envy, and their occupation may appeal, too. The stallions stay hard at work from January to July; the rest of the year is their ‘holiday’. The stud was set up in 1902 by the British, and transferred to the Irish state in 1943. Its eccentric founder was Colonel William Hall Walker, who believed that the stars influenced the horses’ form. The stallion boxes are built with lantern roofs to allow heavenly bodies their full effect on the horses. Every time a mare foaled, Colonel Walker would cast its horoscope, and race or sell the progeny accordingly. The system, it is said, was uncannily successful.

Spring and early summer are the most interesting times to visit, when you will see new foals with their mares. Later in the year the Sun Chariot Yard holds promising yearlings whose paces are just about to be tested. Veterinary research is carried out at the stud, along with all the aspects of the complex and rarified science of horse-breeding. The animals are not pets and should not be approached; apart from their extreme value, they can be fierce and may bite or kick.

The ornamental lake near the stable units has mineral-rich drinking water for the horses, said to encourage good bone structure. Also in the grounds are the ruins of the Black Abbey, dating from the 12th century, and the Irish National Stud Horse Museum, dedicated to all aspects of the equine species. The skeleton of the legendary steeplechaser Arkle is on display, as well as Pat Taafe’s whip and the Duchess of Westminster’s racing colours.

The Japanese Gardens, next to the Stud, offer a completely different attraction and are widely admired throughout Europe as the best of their kind.

This is a handy stop on a  tour of Ireland and we at Ireland Luxury Tours can accomodate a visit when around Dublin or travelling across Ireland.