Incredible number of people visited Wexford’s John F Kennedy Park in 2022

The Office of Public Works has launched a new Visitor Guide to Ireland’s Historic Gardens which the OPW holds in trust for the Nation.

This comprehensive guide to each of the OPW’s 32 stunning gardens features the John F. Kennedy Arboretum in Ballysop, New Ross, which the OPW takes pride in recording and preserving for future generations.

The park is dedicated to former United States of America President, John F Kennedy, whose great-grandfather, Patrick, was born in the nearby village of Dunganstown.

Visitors to John F. Kennedy Arboretum in Co. Wexford reached 137,000 in 2022 as the public connects with nature.

Launching the guide at the Bord Bia Bloom festival in the OPW’s Phoenix Park, the Minister for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan T.D., applauded the work of OPW gardeners across the country, saying:

“We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated team of horticulture specialists, skilled botanists, craft gardeners and grounds staff working across OPW’s 32 Historic Gardens. I want to recognise their role as custodians of Ireland’s finest gardens and landscapes for future generations. Their work today requires constant innovation and response to changes in climate, emerging plant diseases and other challenges in the natural world. I would encourage people at home to come out and share in the pleasure of visiting these historic gardens, and I know that the new guide will be a source of inspiration to many this summer.”

Each historic garden offers a unique experience of the OPW and showcases the year-round work of its professional gardeners and dedicated grounds people. Dedicated to the memory of John F Kennedy, whose great-grandfather, Patrick was born in the nearby village of Dunganstown, the magnificent JFK Arboretum contains a plant collection of presidential proportions. Covering some 252 hectares, the arboretum contains 4,500 types of trees and shrubs from all the temperate regions of the world.

The OPW’s Historic Sites and Gardens attracted over 15 million visitors last year, building on strong visitor footfall since the pandemic as people began to explore their local environs and amenities, and holidayed in other parts of the country – many for the first time.

The OPW’s Guide to Ireland’s Historic Gardens is intended to further open the door to its full estate of stunning grounds and spectacular displays of flora and fauna for visitors and enthusiasts alike while providing an additional resource to those working across the Irish tourism, wellness and horticultural sectors. 

Kevin Naughton, Head Gardener at the John F. Kennedy Arboretum, said:

“From the moment you arrive, until the time you leave, the JFK Arboretum will keep you enthralled. The outstanding tree collections of global importance, the beautiful vistas, meadows, peaceful walks in the woods and lakeside respite provide visitors with the chance to appreciate the beauty and importance of trees in a relaxed and fun way.  Overlooking the arboretum, Slieve Coillte offers you spectacular, panoramic views of south Wexford and six of its surrounding counties. One day is never enough to take it all in!”

The OPW has a major role to play in preserving the Nation’s biodiversity, with responsibility for 5,700 acres of historic parks, botanic gardens and designed landscapes. There is a range of initiatives in place across OPW sites to promote biodiversity, such as the semi-natural grasslands planted at Castletown, tree-planting programmes ensure that collections of native and exotic tress grow year on year and the OPW Swift Initiative aims to ensure the long-term conservation of a bird closely associated with many of its sites.

The guide is now available online for the public to download at

Jason Redmond
Jason Redmond

From Gorey, Jason is the owner of Wexford Weekly. He is also a post-primary English and History teacher.

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