Mount Congreve Gardens in County Waterford is reopened to the public following a €7 million re-development.
It is also the first time that part of the historic Mount Congreve House will officially open to visitors.
Aiming to attract over 86,000 visitors in 2023 and rising to over 130,000 visitors annually by 2032 it’s said that this will be a driving an economic benefit of €64.5m million in the area by 2033 along with the creation of 16 year-round and 11 seasonal jobs directly and supporting 174 jobs indirectly on an annual basis.
Located 10 minutes from Waterford City, Mount Congreve House was home to six generations of the merchant family of Congreves.
Mount Congreve Gardens has been lauded as a ‘great garden of the world’
The title is certainly fitting to an incredible 70 acres of woodland gardens and 4 acres of walled gardens within a 140-acre estate located 10 minutes outside of Ireland’s oldest City of Waterford and adjacent to Waterford’s Greenway.
Inspired by Mr Lionel de Rothschild’s exceptional garden at Exbury in Hampshire, work began on Mount Congreve Gardens in the 1950s.
Ambrose Congreve’s achievements were acknowledged by Queen Elizabeth, who awarded him a CBE, and by Trinity College Dublin, which granted him an honorary doctorate.
Under the redevelopment works a re-invigoration of the gardens has taken place under the vision of Estate Manager, Ray Sinnott and Garden Curator Michael White, with a huge investment of insights, expertise, staff time and funds by both Fáilte Ireland and Waterford City and County Council working in partnership with design consultants Imagemakers Design and The Paul Hogarth Company.
The result of this project is a transformed visitor experience.
A new orientation and wayfinding system is in place whereby visitors can now explore three different walking routes peppered with creative interpretation and play features that tell the story of Mount Congreve and its botanic collection.
Enhancements have been made to the garden infrastructure which includes new pathways and a woodland playground for families.
Visitors will now arrive through the main front doors of the house into the foyer to enjoy an immersive audio-visual exhibition of the garden and family history.
Audio guides will also be available in English, Irish, French, German and Spanish. From the foyer’s double doorways, visitors will be able to catch a glimpse of the very rare ‘Chinese Room’ which features wallpaper, painted by hand, in or near the Chinese port of Canton/Guangzhou, probably in the 1790s – cited as the only existing wallpaper of its kind in the world.
To complement the 18th Century mansion house, a new purpose-built visitor centre has been created in the existing courtyard and former stables in the Eastern wing of the house. The glass roof courtyard with its original architectural features retained is now home to a serene new visitor centre and café, which overlooks the magnolia treetops.
The plot-to-plate menu at the Stables Café features an abundance of local produce along with flavours and vegetables fresh from the Mount Congreve Kitchen Gardens and is open for breakfast, lunch and a special Mount Congreve signature Afternoon Tea which is served in the ‘Old Tack Room’.
Other new elements include a new wetlands walk where dog owners can now enjoy a walk at Mount Congreve plus additional car parking.
In April 2011 Mr Congreve was in London en route to the Chelsea Flower Show, aged 104 when he died. His ashes were returned to Mount Congreve and placed in the temple overlooking his gardens and the River Suir below.
The work started by Mr Congreve has continued through this transformative project and the result is a world-class visitor experience and a new shining jewel in Waterford’s tourism crown.
This year alone we expect to welcome some 85,000 visitors to Mount Congreve Gardens and to build upon this annually generating additional employment and revenue opportunities for Waterford and the Southeast region.
Commercial Director at Mount Congreve Gardens and Waterford Treasures Sara Dolan
Mount Congreve House and Gardens also act as a respite point for the Waterford Greenway with the 48km long attraction running adjacent to the gardens. The gardens are open year-round 7 days a week (4 days a week in low season).