Located north of the little town of Gort, Coole Park was once the home of Lady Augusta Gregory (1859–1932), patron of W. B. Yeats and cofounder with the poet of Dublin's Abbey Theatre. Yeats visited here often, as did almost all the other writers who contributed to the Irish literary revival in the first half of the 20th century, including George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) and Sean O'Casey (1880–1964). Douglas Hyde (1860–1949), the first president of Ireland, was also a visitor. The house became derelict after Lady Gregory's death and was demolished in 1941; the grounds are now a wildlife park with a herd of deer and 6 km (4 miles) of nature trails. Picnic tables make this a lovely alfresco lunch spot. The only reminder of its literary past is the Autograph Tree, a copper beech on which many of Lady Gregory's famous guests carved their initials. There's also a visitor center with displays on Lady Gregory and Yeats. A little out of the way, this is one for Yeats fans only.
Galway Rd., Gort, Co. Galway, Ireland