The National Botanic Gardens is a botanical garden, situated in Glasnevin, 5 km north-west of Dublin city centre, Ireland. The 19.5 hectares are located in between Glasnevin Cemetery and the River Tolka where it forms part of the river’s floodplain.
The gardens were founded in 1795 by the Dublin Society (later the Royal Dublin Society) and are today in State ownership through the Workplace of Public Works. They hold approximately 20,000 living plants and many millions of dried plant specimens. There are a number of architecturally significant greenhouses. Today the Glasnevin site is the headquarters of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland which has a satellite garden and arboretum at Kilmacurragh in County Wicklow.
The gardens take part in national and international efforts for biodiversity conservation and sustainable advancement. The Director, Dr. Matthew Jebb, is also Chairman of PlantNetwork: The Plant Collections Network of Britain and Ireland. It is Ireland’s seventh most visited attraction, and the 2nd most visited free tourist attraction.
The poet Thomas Tickell owned a home and small estate in Glasnevin and, in 1795, they were offered to the Irish Parliament and offered to the Royal Dublin Society for them to develop Ireland’s very first botanic gardens. A double line of yew trees, known as “Addison’s Stroll” endures from this period.
The initial function of the gardens was to advance understanding of plants for agricultural, medicinal and dyeing functions. The gardens were the first area in Ireland where the infection responsible for the 1845– 1847 potato famine was recognized. Throughout the famine, research to stop the infection was carried out at the gardens.
Walter Wade and John Underwood, the first Director and Superintendent respectively, executed the layout of the gardens, but, when Wade died in 1825, they declined for some years. From 1834, Director Ninian Nivan brought brand-new life into the gardens, performing some redesign. This programme of modification and advancement continued with the following Directors into the late 1960s.
Wittgenstein plaque in the Palm House. The gardens were placed into government care in 1877. In the winter of 1948/9 Ludwig Wittgenstein lived and worked in Ireland. He regularly pertained to the Palm House to sit and write. There is a plaque celebrating him on the steps he rested on.
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