Fota House Arboretum And Gardens
At Fota House Arboretum and Gardens discover this fine Regency-style building in the pleasant landscape setting on Fota Island, complemented by the internationally renowned Arboretum and Gardens and the Victorian Working Gardens.
The House is a celebration of fine craftsmanship and has a particularly well appointed kitchen. It reflects well the life-style of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today it welcomes visitors to see the House itself and to enjoy the fare provided in the Bakestone Cafe
Victorian Working Gardens
Fota’s Victorian Working Gardens fell into a state of despair during the 20th century and a huge, award winning restoration project was undertaken by the Irish Heritage Trust to restore it to its former glory.
When you visit Fota’s Victorian Working Garden today, you’ll find it buzzing with activity again, as their enthusiastic staff and dedicated volunteers propagate plants and grow produce for the enjoyment of visitors and the local community. Wander through the Victorian walled garden to enjoy its beauty and chat to their team about its history and the role it played in the story of the great house.
History of Fota House
Until the 1820s, Fota was a two-storey hunting lodge, used as a base for fishing, shooting, and exploring Cork Harbour. The entire estate was owned by the descendants of Philip de Barry, who had been granted ownership of Fota Island after his participation in the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 1160s and ’70s.
When Fota House became the Smith-Barry’s permanent home in the 1820s, it was remodelled to fit their ambitions and communicate their power. Designs were prepared by the renowned Irish architects Sir Richard Morrison and his son William Vitruvius Morrison for an opulent mansion, fitting John Smith-Barry’s ambition to entertain and assert his importance in Irish society.
The complex role Fota House played in local lives is explored in fascinating detail through their tours and events, led by Fota House’s dedicated staff and volunteers. Be sure to wander through the arboretum and gardens, after you have explored the mansion, to experience the beauty of their planting and learn more about the unique natural environment of Fota Island.
When the Irish Heritage Trust began caring for Fota House and its estate on Fota Island in 2007, the property was falling into disrepair and was in need of special care and attention. Unique original features were at risk, including its impressive glasshouses and the Victorian Working Garden which had once kept the staff busy and its residents well-fed!
Today, Fota House is one of Ireland’s great houses, home to a nationally significant collection of paintings, a beautifully restored arboretum and gardens, and an award-winning volunteering programme.
When you take a Guided Tour of Fota House you can relish the atmosphere in Fota House’s grandest rooms and servants’ quarters. The guides will show you around and share tales about the Smith-Barry family and their staff.
Learn about the ancestoral home of the Smith Barry family who lived in Fota House, one of Ireland’s finest examples of regency architecture, for over 200 years.
Marvel at the superb neo classical interiors, the grand decor of the formal rooms, the guest suite and nursery. Then contrast with the servants wing where you can see the working areas of the maids, cooks, butlers and other staff many of them local who worked with the family over the years.
You will enjoy collections of art and objects displayed in the original settings.
Children will love to see the sensitively refurbished nursery at Fota House where children’s toys and original furniture recreate scenes from a privileged Victorian childhood.
Book here for Fota House Guided Tour
Events at Fota House
Visit the house and gardens for activities, courses, and events which form part of our packed programme throughout the year.
Christmas 2023 at Fota House
This Christmas, Santa & Mrs. Claus have returned to for the Magic of Santa at Fota House again this year as they make their final preparations for Christmas Eve.
Find out what else is happening at Fota House Events
Fota House And Gardens Opening Times
March – September Open Daily 10am to 5pm
Mid Feb to Mid Mar – open for week-ends only
November and January -closed
December – open for Christmas Experience only
Fota House And Gardens Admission
Snr Citizens / Students €8
Families (2 adults and 3 children) €25
Fota Island, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork
Cork to Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens
To get to Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens, take the N25 east from Cork City for about 7 km and exit the N25 at Junction 3 (signposted Cobh). Take the R624 for approximately 2.5 km and Fota House is on the right-hand side.
Fota Wildlife Park shares a car park, which makes a visit to both attractions an easy option. You’ll hear how close the monkeys are when you visit Fota House gardens! Fota Retreat is only a short walk away too.
Parking is available at €3 for the day. Payment by card or cash.
Public Transport –
There is a frequent train service to Fota train station from Cork City and Cobh. Trains from Cork Kent station in the city centre to Fota take 15 minutes and usually depart hourly.