Where do you go to see a beautiful carpet of bluebells in Ireland?
Why, Co. Laois of course! Away from the crowds and full of natural woodland, it’s the perfect place to enjoy beautiful bluebells in April & May.
Here are our favourite local spots for ‘bluebell bothering’. They’re all great family friendly walks (& have places to stop off for ice cream & tasty lunches nearby too)…
Starting with our favourite magical bluebell grove, it has to be Knockatrina Woods in Durrow. Access to the woods is via a small gateway just outside Durrow town on the Kilkenny Road. There’s not a lot of space to park, and the entrance is not well marked, but your tenacity in finding this spot will be rewarded with a walk through a fairytale setting of tall trees, wild garlic, a meandering path and a babbling brook. Oh, and of course, an abundance of show stopping bluebells. Bring the kids & bring your camera. It is just gorgeous, especially in early May.
See: www.discoverireland.ie/laois/durrow-leafy-loops-leafy-loop for details.
For refreshments: stop off in the pretty town of Durrow. You can get ice cream with various toppings in the Gala, or a lovely lunch in Bowes Café in the square. See www.bowescafe.ie for details.
Dysart Woods, Stradbally
Another stunning woodland setting. Another amazing bluebell display. This time, it’s on the main road between Portlaoise and Stradbally, almost exactly opposite the ancient ruins of The Rock of Dunamase (also well worth a visit, seeing as you are this close). Expect to see stunning swathes of bluebells, under a lush canopy of hardwood trees. A pleasant looped walk will lead you to the best of the bluebells. Camera at the ready!
For refreshments, stop off in Stradbally Fayre, or head back into Portlaoise for lunch at The Pantry Café (they have a lovely garden area and a great selection of snacks & lunches). See www.thepantry.ie for details.
Emo Court & Parklands
The lake walk at Emo Court is well worth a visit at any time of year, but in early May, bluebells abound in the spring sunshine. There are several walking routes within the grounds of the great house, but the woodlands along the sweeping driveway are the most densely populated with bluebell flowers. More bluebells can be found along the looped lake walk route, which is popular with families. This path also offers wooden sculptures for kids to climb on, and spectacular views over the lake towards the house.
For refreshments, bring a picnic to enjoy al fresco in the picnic area, or treat yourself to lunch & snacks in the CaToCa Café onsite. See www.catocafinefood.com
Glenbarrow Waterfall, Slieve Bloom Mountains
Part of the Glenbarrow Eco Walk, leave the car in the Glenbarrow car park, and take the mossy trail through the deep greens of the forest (the perfect backdrop for bluebells in spring). You’ll follow the path alongside the river until you reach the falls – which are particularly impressive after an April shower! For some, the short trail down to the waterfall is enough. For more seasoned walkers, there is a longer hike with regular markers along the route. See www.slievebloom.ie for details.
For refreshments, head back to the Glenbarrow car park, where The Falls Café coffee truck offers drinks and snacks on weekends & holidays.
Dunmore Woods, Durrow
Dunmore Woods is another lovely leafy loop walk on the edge of Durrow, which boasts a beautiful bluebell display. This looped walk takes you through the woods & along the river, and bluebells line the path in spring. There are a couple of little bridges to trip trap across along the way, which are perfect for a quick game of Pooh Sticks, (where you drop a stick on the upriver side and watch to see whose stick appears first on the downriver side, as played by Winnie the Pooh & friends). See: www.discoverireland.ie/laois/durrow-leafy-loops-leafy-loop for details.
For refreshments, head on into Durrow town & visit Bowes Café (as above), or try the pretty riverside beer garden & café at Bob’s Bar: www.bobsbar.ie
Cullenagh Woods, Near Glamping Under The Stars
For a handy little woodland walk with pretty clusters of bluebells, we are very lucky to have Cullenagh Woods right on our doorstep. Take a left out of the glampsite, and follow the lane uphill until you reach the barrier. (You can walk up, or park the car in the spaces near the barrier if little legs are not used to walking). Go on uphill on foot for another 50 yards or so, looking out for a naturally worn path on the lefthand side. Follow the path through the pines, and you’ll come to an ancient oak forest, with walks either side of the woodland stream, which leads to a waterfall and, in April & May, a bluebell grove. (Keep an ear out for the occasional Mountain biker coming down the path, and be ready to step aside if you hear them approaching. The local mountain bike club created this pathway, so the bikes have priority).
For refreshments, bring a picnic, or book into Glamping Under The Stars and cook yourself something nice on the BBQ! Or, you could pop into nearby Abbeyleix for takeaway coffee and the best pastries in Laois from Mueller & O’Connell Bakery: www.mocbakery.ie
So there you have it. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and there are many other lovely places to walk through bluebells in Laois, and beyond. But these are some of our favourite places to see bluebells in Ireland.
Please take care not to trample, crush or pick bluebells on your travels, as it can take a long time for them to recover if damaged. Take only photos & memories too, of course! We hope you enjoy the beautiful bluebells as much as we do.
And if you’re visiting Laois outside of bluebell season, you might like to check out some of our other favourite family friendly things to do near Glamping Under The Stars.