Farmleigh once belonged to the Guinness family with the large house at centre of the 78 acre estate built towards the end of the 19th century. A few years ago it was bought by the Irish government and underwent a lot of refurbishment. It now serves as the official Government guest house for visiting Kings and Presidents.
When it’s not being used for Government business (and it’s always useful to check ahead), Farmleigh is open to the public to enjoy. It’s a really nice place to visit any time of the year but especially in summer – it seems to be a favourite spot now for Dubliners for their picnics. There are tours of the house itself and you are free to wander the grounds which include walled gardens and a boathouse restaurant by the lake. Kids will get a kick out of seeing the cows and donkeys in the fields as well.
A nice way to get to Farmleigh is by bike through Phoenix Park itself or just take the No. 37 bus from the city centre to the Castleknock Gate entrance to the Park. As you enter the Park, take the path to the right until it comes to another road – turn right again and you will see the entrance to the estate up on the left. This map shows the route by car from the Gate but you can see a footpath across the green space linking the two roads.