The book begins with a record of the site from c. 1400 and notes a petition from 1436 indicating that only men ‘of English race’ might become monks in the nearby abbey of Abington. By c. 1680, when the walled garden, the principal subject of the present book, was created, the estate belonged to the Evans family (later Lords Carbery). During its tenure the ancient oak on the property, known as the Ilchester oak, was recorded as already mature. The book continues with the history of the occupation of the site from the 1820s by the Barrington family, their rise from a Limerick legal practice, via the construction of Barrington’s Hospital for the poor of the city, to the grandeur of the estate and its castle, now known as Glenstal, as well as of a baronetcy.
After the Barrington family sold Glenstal in 1926, its custodianship passed to the Benedictine community, which looks after it to this day. The community worked in the c. 1680 walled terrace garden to provide some food in the spirit of St Benedict’s dictum that ‘then are they truly monks when they work by the labour of their hands’. In 1975 a project for the restoration of the wider gardens was conceived by the community, together with the Limerick branch of An Taisce.