Wicklow Travel Resources
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Wicklow and the East of Ireland
Ireland Travel Companion
Escaping the bustle of Dublin and heading south, you will encounter the scenic beauty of Wicklow, wild and enchanting. Stunning landscapes surround you as you explore the majestic glacial valleys and dramatic mountain passes. This rugged landscape of gorse and bracken is home to many of Ireland's most significant archaeological finds, from the stately homes of 18th-century gentry to the very earliest Christian dwellings.
Animal-lovers should head west to Kildare, the home of Irish horse racing and a landscape beautiful enough to rival Wicklow to the east.
Visitors to this captivating corner of Ireland should look out for Brú na Bóinne, Glendalough, Powerscourt Estate, Monasterboice and Castletownhouse, all detailed below.
Even the briefest visit to this Palladian mansion, with extensive Italianate gardens, will give a sense of the inequality which existed in Ireland during the Eighteenth Century when Powerscourt was built. Originally built by Richard Cassels between 1731 and 1743, the main building was the subject of continued rejuvenation for generations to come, with considerable alterations being made in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. The last chapter in this story of renovation would not arrive until 1974 when, tragically gutted by fire, the mansion was subjected to a painstaking restoration which continues to this day, restricting visitor-access to the first (i.e. ground) floor only.
Powerscourt is a very popular attraction and, during the summer months, draws significant crowds. Visitors should allow for this by avoiding peak times wherever possible. Mid-week, visiting tourists can enjoy the estate's many attractions at a relaxed pace, both indoors and out. The formal gardens, redesigned in the Nineteenth Century by Daniel Robinson, are truly breathtaking in their beauty and encompass a panoply of different landscaping styles.
Find out More:
- Admission to the house is free; gardens €8.50 (children €5)
- 09:30-17:30 with earlier closing during winter months
Wicklow and the East
The eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish gentry left plenty of reminders of the opulence they enjoyed, as the Powerscourt Estate (above) will attest. But even among the many stately homes of Ireland, Castletown House stands out as Ireland's largest and most imposing Georgian estate.
Built over a period of ten years from 1722, the house itself was to be the home of Ireland's richest man, William Conolly (1662-1729) who died three years before the house was completed. The speaker of the Irish House of Commons, Conolly was something of a rags-to-riches figure who had made his fortune from astute property trading in the flux which followed the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
This palatial mansion is built in the Italian style and retains a cohesive architectural identity despite the mixed contributions of first- and second-wave architects, not to mention Conolly's creative widow. Visitors will enjoy the Long Gallery, in particular, which houses a large number of impressive family portraits and stucco work by the Francinis.
Accessible by car, this is also one for the thousands hill walkers who visit Ireland each year. Sally Gap offers visitors some of the most beautiful scenery you will find anywhere in Ireland, so don't forget to bring your camera along with you. Sally Gap is one of two west-east passes across the Wicklow Mountains, and affords fantastic views of Lough Tay and Lough Dan.
Not known for its own tourist attractions, but a good stop-off nonetheless. Look out for St Brigid's Cathedral before heading over to the Irish National Stud.
A quaint town sitting the shadow of its dramatic castle and ruins. A busy bustle of little streets so look out for your souvenirs here.
Just 30 miles north of Dublin, Drogheda straddles the River Boyne. There is a great museum here and plenty of beautiful old buildings.
Find out more:
- www.castletown.ie | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Online Tour of the House
- Castletown House on Wikipedia
- Tel: 00353 (0)1628 8252
- Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland
- Admission: 10:00-16:45 | Adult/child €4.50/3.50
- Locate Castletown House on Google Maps
In the Area:
The Irish National Stud & Gardens
Just over a mile south of Kildare town, The Irish National stud is perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in this part of Ireland. In her historic 2011 visit to Ireland, Queen Elizabeth II fed her passion for all things equestrian by visiting the stud which is home to some of the world's finest horses. Owned by the Irish government, the stud breeds competition-quality stallions for breeding programs the world-over.
Hourly guided tours of the stud bring you face-to-face with renowned stallions and feature a visit to the intensive-care unit for newly-born foals and visitors between February and June can even see foals being delivered.
The Japanese Gardens are perhaps not large enough to merit a special visit in their own right, but they are very pretty and, when in bloom, add a very pleasant sidenote to the main attraction, the stud itself.