Bantry House, which is featured in the show.

Final episode of Ireland’s Historic Gardens to air this week

The final episode of Ireland’s Historic Gardens, a two part documentary written and presented by author and historian Robert and produced and directed by David Hare, is to air on Sunday, October 3.

The programme examines the history of Ireland’s country house gardens over the last 400 years during which time garden design has reflected political and social changes taking place within the country. In the seventeenth century, for example, the decision to plant your garden in the French or Dutch style reflected your political allegiance.

The second part of Ireland’s Historic Gardens begins at Powerscourt, Co Wicklow, perhaps the most famous garden in Ireland, and the foremost example of the kind of elaborate, formal style so popular in Ireland in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Bantry House in County Cork has a similarly formal design, its garden laid out across seven terraces, the highest of them reached via 100 stone steps. But even by the time of its construction, tastes were beginning to change once more, helped by the arrival in Ireland of plants discovered across the world.

Derreen in County Kerry, which features species from as far away as the Himalayas and New Zealand, happily sharing space alongside native species, can be considered a horticultural United Nations.

Robert O'Byrne with Catherine Fitzgerald, the fourth generation of women to tend the grounds at her family home, Glin Castle, overlooking the Shannon Estuary.

At Kilmacurragh in Co Wicklow presenter Robert O’Byrne meets head gardener Seamus O’Brien and visits the biggest rhododendron in Europe, while at Mount Usher in County Wicklow Robert sees Ireland’s largest collection of eucalyptus, along with trees from China, Japan and Australia, all flourishing in this country’s temperate climate.

At Heywood in Co Laois Dr Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Gardens shows Robert an outstanding garden designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and from there Robert visits beautiful Garnish in County Cork, a garden created at the start of the 20th century, on what had been a barren, rocky island.

Finally Robert travels to County Limerick to meet garden designer Catherine FitzGerald, the fourth generation of women to tend the grounds at her family home, Glin Castle, overlooking the Shannon Estuary.

Ireland's Historic Gardens will air on Sunday at 6.30pm on RTÉ ONE .