Student Programmes

Horticultural Internship Programme

Gain practical work experience in the Birr Castle Gardens


Birr Castle Demesne extends to over 50 hectares and is open to the public 362 days of the year.  It contains formal gardens, terraces and Robinsonian gardens along the banks of the rivers, as well as the particularly important arboretum.  Many trees are grown from seed collected in the wild by plant-hunting expeditions sponsored by the 6th Earl of Rosse.  Most of the important plants in the collection are of Chinese origin and a number are certainly the finest specimens known in Ireland.  The 7th Earl is maintaining the traditional flow of rare seeds from the East.  The Demesne hosts “probably Ireland’s largest collection of rare trees”.


Previous Horticultural Experience:

Over the last fifteen years, over 100 interested horticulturalists have spent a couple of months or longer in the Demesne to gain practical work experience, mostly between the spring and autumn. Some have spent the best part of a year, but most spend a trimester of two or three months.

The Programme:

The weekly and daily work programmes are set by the Head Gardener under the overall direction of Lord Rosse as director of the Gardens, and work is carried out under their supervision.

The Accommodation:

Accommodation is provided free of charge in one of two cottages, with one or two sharing per room.  The accommodation is basic, but all the essentials are provided.


Access to Birr Castle’s botanical library and archives can be arranged for those interested in pursuing further studies in the evening.
Lord Rosse is also happy to facilitate visits to other heritage gardens or parks in Ireland, in order to broaden the programme with comparative study.


All interns successfully completing their programme of practical work experience in the Birr Castle Demesne are provided with a certificate to this effect, signed by either Lord Rosse or the Head Gardener.
All applications from students need to be supported by recommendations from their academic supervisors.
For further information, please contact us on +353 5791-20336 or



Horticultural Internship Programme

– Review by Matthew Vis-Dunbar 2010

Coming from a background of working in botanical gardens in Canada, interning at Birr Castle Demesne was a great experience. The vast collection of woody Asiatic material, in addition to a growing hardy Chilean and South African collection, introduced me to a wealth of plant material I was previously unfamiliar with.
The structure of the internship afforded a lot of self-direction, allowing me to focus on the areas of the garden I was most interested in. The opportunity to work in and help re-establish portions of the fernery, in addition to being given the freedom to propagate whatever plant material I could lay my hands on, provided me with a wealth of opportunity to draw on the knowledge of both current and past gardeners on the grounds, and to explore aspects of horticulture I had only previously dappled in.
My three months at Birr Castle Demesne will not be forgotten. To be welcomed into a garden, with such a well-established collection, and the people to support it, is irreplaceable.


Examples of 15 interesting genera in just the first five letters of the alphabet found in the Birr Castle Demesne

  • Acradenia/Actinidia/Aralia/Aristotelia/Austrocedrus
  • Baccharis/Berberidopsis/Blepharocalyx
  • Caldcluvia/Carrierea*
  • Decaisnea/Decumaria/Desmodium/Dipelta
  • Ehretia*

* Denotes one of the 45 trees at Birr published as champion trees of Britain and Ireland