RHSI Partner Garden – Collon House
Nestled less than an hour away from the bustling heart of Dublin City Centre, home to John Bentley-Dunn and Michael McMahon, Collon House beckons with its rich history, captivating charm, and meticulously curated gardens. This hidden gem offers a rare opportunity to step back in time and experience the elegance of early Georgian living, all within a stone’s throw of modern amenities.
From the moment John warmly welcomed me through its gates, I was transported to a world where Georgian elegance mingles with flourishing gardens, creating an experience that’s truly captivating.
Collon House, a living testament to centuries gone by, was constructed in 1740 in the distinctive Irish Long House style. Once the residence of Anthony Foster, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, it carries the echoes of significant figures and events from Irish history. The most renowned resident, John “Speaker” Foster, was not only the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons before its dissolution by the Act of Union in 1800 but also ascended to peerage in the United Kingdom. With its period antiques and paintings, the house exudes an air of grace and refinement, transporting visitors to a bygone era.
The gardens at Collon House are an intricate tapestry of horticulture and design. Enclosed by mature trees and shrubs, the gardens have been lovingly restored with period-appropriate plantings, a testament to the dedication of the current stewards. John’s passion for horticulture is evident in every inch of Collon House’s gardens.
As you approach the main entrance, your eyes will be drawn to the sunken box parterre, adorned with topiaries and a meticulously laid out 18th-century design—a true masterpiece. In the ornamental garden, box-edged herbaceous borders come alive with a riot of colours. From the elegance of white phlox and delphiniums to the vibrant hues of penstemon, dahlias, and asters, each plant contributes to a symphony of natural beauty. As the seasons shift, the garden undergoes a transformation, with each bloom taking centre stage in its own time.
A Greek-style summer house, nestled at the garden’s end, offers a tranquil vantage point. Amidst the old roses, wisteria, and clematis, it’s an ideal spot to pause and reflect on the harmonious interplay of colours and textures.
Collon House’s gardens cater to a diverse array of plant enthusiasts. The enclosed centre courtyard provides a haven for hostas, offering them respite from the sun’s warmth. Meanwhile, hydrangeas thrive in the shade of the gabled house, adding touches of elegance to every corner. The yew walks and formal box garden are adjoined beautifully by flower and shrub borders. The garden is punctuated with classical statuary, pots, quirky pieces of architectural salvage; gravel beds are dotted with little stone plinths and cheeky Greek gods peep out from under tree canopies.
Guided Tours and Culinary Delights
John and Michael are delighted to offer RHSI members (groups of 6 or more) half price entry to see the gardens but the experience at Collon House goes beyond the visual and botanical.
For those who wish to dive deeper into Collon House’s history and horticulture, guided tours of both the house and garden are available by appointment, providing an opportunity to uncover the hidden stories and intricacies that make this place truly special. John and Michael’s dedication to restoration and preservation shines through as you explore architectural features and beautifully furnished rooms.
And let’s not forget about the culinary offerings! A tour of the house and garden, followed by tea, coffee, and cake, is an invitation to indulge in both history and gastronomy. Larger groups can savour delightful lunches, and for those seeking a more refined evening, a five-course dinner awaits—a feast for all the senses.
Collon House’s commitment to restoration and conservation has not gone unnoticed. The prestigious An Taisce award, bestowed upon this historical gem, acknowledges the meticulous restoration of architectural elements, the elegant interiors, and the enchanting gardens. It’s a testament to John and Michael’s dedication and their desire to share this hidden treasure with the world.
My recent visit to Collon House was a journey through time, a celebration of history, and an immersion into the world of horticulture. From the gracious rooms that transport you to the past to the meticulously curated gardens that delight the senses, every corner of Collon House is a treasure waiting to be discovered. If you’re seeking an escape from the ordinary, a visit to Collon House is an opportunity to experience history, horticulture, and hospitality converging in perfect harmony.