About Us


Festina Lente provides a unique range of equestrian and horticultural activities, training, recreational events and employment services & options with a strong emphasis on social inclusion, choice and personal development. Festina Lente is a registered Irish Charity currently based in Bray, Co Wicklow and offers a variety of services in our Equestrian Centre, Equine Assisted Programmes, Walled Gardens, QQI Courses & Day Service.


Festina Lente aims to create a welcoming environment where we can deliver the very best, training, recreational events and employment services tailored to an individual’s needs in order to support them to achieve their full personal and vocational potential. Festina Lente is open to everyone and we welcome without exception each person who comes to us and we treat everyone with dignity irrespective of their background or abilities.


Our staff are dedicated to responding to individual needs and provide world class services for those who need us and we strive try to ensure that the services provided meet the highest international standards. Horses are key to our success and their well-being is a priority to all staff both during and after their working lives.


We also have a variety of public services and facilities for everyone to enjoy on our campus in Bray – an Equestrian Centre offering lessons, camps and equine facilitated learning programmes, a beautifully restored Victorian Walled Garden where we host lots of fun seasonal family and events and children’s workshops and birthday parties, a Garden Centre, an open air Cafe and shop so why not pop along for a visit.  Keep an eye on our Events Calendar for upcoming events!


We are also an education centre offering QQI accredited educational training courses:
♦ Equestrian Training Programme

♦ Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator Training Programme

♦ Therapeutic Riding Coaching Programme

♦ Transition Training Programme.


We also offer other training programmes:

Equine Facilitated Educational Programme

Educational Helper Programme

Equine Assisted Learning Programme

Supported Helpers Programme


Saol Anois is also a service run by Festina Lente in our campus.  The Saol Anois Day Service is funded by Health Service Executive and it was set up in 2005 to meet the support needs of adults with intellectual disabilities and/or dual diagnosis.  It is a supportive and therapeutic service designed to meet the needs of people through individual plans. Service users have the opportunity to access a range of integrated developmental and leisure opportunities.


We are also the home to Wonder Paws Dog Training & Agility & also their dog grooming facility The Grooming Shed at Festina Lente, 100% of profits from their classes, lessons & workshops go to the Festina Lente Foundation so by supporting them you are also supporting Festina Lente.  Check out their website http://www.wonderpaws.ie for more details and dates of their classes.


Festina Lente was founded in 1988 by Mary Rachel Brophy; her aim was through social and economic inclusion, to support those most at risk. All activities encourage individual choice, personal development, achievement and progression and we are a registered Irish Charity.


Our campus is situated in the grounds of what was once Old Connaught House, formerly the residence of the Plunket family. Read more on the History of Old Connaught House & Gardens and Festina Lente Foundation.


Festina Lente (Latin) means Hasten Slowly and is the Plunket family motto. We adopted this as the name of our organisation in 1995 because it conveys our culture perfectly.


Festina Lente has further plans and intends to continue to develop the Festina Lente Campus & Walled Gardens as part of the full services of our non profit charity as well as offering more education and training programmes.


The result of all of the Festina Lente’s hard work is the wonderful garden and state of the art Equestrian Centre which are available to the public to enjoy whenever they want.


Equestrian Centre



We have wonderful facilities in our Equestrian Centre; it is both a working and learning environment for hundreds of people every year.


We have a reputation for excellence in coaching people of all ages and abilities who, not only learn to ride, they also learn about horse welfare and management.


A variety of programmes are available, they include:


♦  equestrian vocational training
♦  group riding lessons
♦  private or semi-private lessons
♦  equine facilitated learning programmes
♦  helper programmes
♦  therapeutic riding lessons


We consider it important to provide an integrated environment for children, young people and adults.


We achieve this by providing a flexible learning environment through the Therapeutic Riding Programme and the Supported Helpers Programme; both of which place a strong emphasis on having fun!


We welcome students with a variety of physical, cognitive, emotional and developmental disabilities. Our newly developed Sensory Trail has also had great use as a therapeutic tool.


We continuously strive to improve our courses and introduce new ones as need becomes apparent. There is ongoing evaluation of learning and support methods.

Victorian Walled Garden



On the campus there is a two and a half acre Victorian Walled Garden.


The Garden was once part of the Plunket estate and was developed during the family’s ownership. Each Baron Plunket made changes to the Garden which included the addition of the kitchen garden, a large greenhouse and a pool garden.


The Festina Lente non profit Walled Victorian Gardens have been loving restored by Festina Lente to their original Victorian design and plans surrounded by the original walls built in the 1780’s.


It is the largest working Victorian Walled Garden in Ireland and contains many beautiful features and stunning fauna and flora.


Today the Ornamental Garden has a beautiful fountain, various flower beds, borders, statues and a variety of other original features.  We have a sensory trail through the edges of our garden, one side was designed by Oliver Schurmann, award winning designer from Mount Venus Nurseries with some unusual and interesting plants, on the other side we have planted a perennial meadow so there are lots to see in this section of our gardens.


The Pool Garden has two large rectangular pools; they are home to our terrapins and goldfish.


The Kitchen Garden has a spectacular herbaceous border and a working kitchen garden where fruit and vegetables are grown in allotments.


The Walled Garden is also home to our Garden Centre where we stock a variety of seeds and plants, our outdoor Cafe and our Gift Shop.  We have meeting rooms for rent and the Wonderpaws dog grooming facility The Grooming Shed at Festina Lente is also located in this area of the gardens.