South East Ireland Tourism
Travel guide to Ireland's south east
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Fota Island

Fota Island’s internationally recognized house and gardens are a haven of relaxation and enjoyment, and have inspired generations of visitors and garden lovers alike. The estate is simply stunning. Set on its own dedicated island, it  provides the ultimate setting for all to enjoy the beauty and richness of one of the finest collections of rare and tender trees in all of Ireland or Britain. The house, too, is a building of considerable architectural merit, and has been sensitively developed to accommodate a wildlife park, a café, and a very fine golf course. Educational excursions into the walled gardens are available for children, or indeed adults, but most visitors simply enjoy the lush magnificence and colour of the planting, and the very fine ambience of its setting.

The gardens at Fota Island were founded by the Smith-Barry Family, who recognized the significance of Fota’s sheltered location and warm soil. Indeed the word “Fota” is derived from the Irish “Fód te” meaning warm soil, which they realized was ideal for the growing and cultivation of rare trees and exotic plants. The development of Fota Island’s arboretum coincided with some of the great plant hunting expeditions around the world, which brought back wonderful specimens from far-flung places such as the Orient, South America and the Pacific coast of north west America. The family also recorded the plant collections throughout the 19th century and this important work of cataloguing, conservation and development continues today. The gardens were transferred to the care of the Irish State in 1996, and are open to the public throughout the year. Enjoy a wonderful day out for all the family at Fota!

How to get to Fota Island

Access by train, bus or car. From Cork City follow the N25 eastwards, and follow the signage for "Fota Island Resort". To access Fota by train, take the Cobh line from Kent Station and get off at Fota. For East Ferry cross the bridge at Belvelly.

Explore more

Fota and East Ferry are surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Cobh and Crosshaven if you are travelling west, and don't miss Ballycotton, and Ardmore, if you are travelling east.

Where to Stay

Fota offers a whole range of accommodation types, from hotels, to seaside holiday cottages, and guesthouses.

Things to do in Fota Island

  1. Enjoy a day at Fota’s magnificent period house and gardens.
  2. Visit beautiful Fota Wildlife Park.
  3. Explore East Ferry Marina, a delightful marina facility located in the grounds of the Marlogue Inn at the very back of Cork Harbour.
  4. See Belvelly’s 15th century Castle, once home to Sir Walter Raleigh.
  5. Explore East Ferry’s wonderful forest trails with a great abundance of forest flowers.
  6. Treat yourself to lunch in beautiful Fota House.

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