Driving on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, I came across Tintern Abbey, a Cistercian Abbey founded by William Marshall, the Earl of Pembroke in c1200. The Abbey was occupied from the 16th Century up to recently by the Colclough Family. Miss Marie Colclough, who lived in the Abbey until the 1960’s, died as recently as 1983.

To the rear of the Abbey, set on 2.5 acres, is the c200 year old beautifully restored Georgian walled garden. Built by the Colclough family in the 19th Century, the impressive stone wall, approximately a metre thick, is lined on the inside by brick, made on the site from estuarine mud drawn from the Bannow Estuary and fired in the grounds of Tintern.

“mammy, mammy, look, a secret garden”. Familiar words from children entering through the garden gate for the first time.
As you enter this “secret garden”, the entrance being on the higher slopes of the garden, you are immediately struck by the size and the beauty of the walls and the enclosed garden. The gardens are in two lots separated by a brick wall, the ornamental garden that provided the house with flowers all year round and the kitchen garden that provided vegetables and herbs for the kitchens. The garden has been completely restored to its former beauty over the last couple of years.

Barbara Kelly met me at the entrance and she gave me an informative explanation of the garden, its structure and contents, certainly enlightening me as to why this garden was built in the first place and the background to the incredible restoration of the garden from deprivation to its present splendid state. Now, full of vibrant colour bringing cheer and laughter as the kids play and run, fruit trees and vegetables bearing bloom and the evidence of fruit forming soon to be harvested for the table. The gardeners actively encourage children to ask questions and their answers bring the plants, their propagation and the enjoyment of a garden to life.

As you walk around the ornamental garden, you can imagine the fine ladies out for a stroll with their wide-rimmed dresses flowing, chatting or perhaps reading in this quiet and gentle atmosphere, surrounded by colourful blooms and the gentle sound of the stream that runs through the center of the garden, the fragrance of the blossoms and the sounds of the birds. It must have been so peaceful.

..a resting place to sit and absorb the mystic surroundings, escaping from everyday drudgery and slipping into your own daydream world of fantasy…

After leaving the gardens and heading back towards the Abbey, I swung left at the river and walking into the woodlands following the trail takes you along a small, but pretty river. The smell of wild garlic was amazing. There were carpets of bluebells, some were beginning to blossom and my imagination could only picture what it will look like in another three to four weeks. The ferns were lush, bright green color like prehistoric plants struggling for space among the vegetation.

The coffee bar and café on site offers a refreshing pause to the activities on this amazing location. All the staff I met were happy, cheerful and had a pride in their place of work and were there to help you and inform you all the way.

I will be returning to complete this project to encompass the Abbey itself in the near future.

Alan Ryan, Project Manager
David Bawden, Head Gardner

Colclough Walled Garden
Tintern Abbey, Salt Mills, Hook Penninsula, Co Wexford, Ireland

Tel: 053 3064159
Web: Email:
Sat Nav: 52.23696 -6.83778
Adults: €3 Senior Citizens / Students €2

Opening Every Day:
May to September 10 am to 6 pm
October to April 10 am to 4 pm