I recently went on a day of adventure with my friend Amira around my home county of Wicklow, and in trying to find things to do around here I discovered that Wicklow isn’t as boring as I’d always though. So I thought I’d whip up a little blog post to go with my adventure video about five fun things to do in Co. Wicklow. Enjoy!
Wicklow is called “The Garden of Ireland” and while I always did admit that it was one of the prettier counties it wasn’t until I began to visit the (many) country estates dotted around Wicklow that I really understood why it earned that nickname. Powerscourt is a beautiful stately home which began life as a medieval castle, though due to renovations the history of the property is not immediately recognisable. The house was commissioned in 1730 and the curation of the gardens commenced shortly after. Because of the length of time the house and gardens have been standing, and the huge acreage of the gardens they are incredibly diverse. And of course they house Ireland’s highest waterfall just 6 km from the estate, perfect for picnics and seeing the true nature of the location (it is situated in parkland as opposed to the curated gardens). I would suggest trying to choose a bright and sunny day to explore the gardens, and they are of course best in midsummer when they are in full bloom. However, there is something wonderfully poetic about the beautiful Japanese style gardens, or French pavilion shrouded in mist and rain. But if you do find yourself in Powerscourt during a shower you can always visit the Museum of Childhood located within the main building, the museum is an interesting collection of children’s toys and a huge dollhouse called Tara’s Palace. Or there’s always the artisan cafe!
I worked here for a time so lets get my number one pet peeve out of the way first; gaol is an archaic spelling of the word jail, they are pronounced the same. So it is not gway-ol, or goal, but jail. Thank you. The gaol is a museum which is located in the centre of Wicklow town, and shows the conditions of prisoners being held there over it’s long history. The gaol which can be seen on the site today was built in 1842-43 but there has been a prison on the site since 1702. As you can imagine the long history of suffering and death which surrounds such a building has lead to many reports that the gaol, and some surrounding buildings, may be haunted. As such the gaol does offer paranormal based events, alongside it’s more history based family friendly tours. It also boasts one of the best cafe’s in Wicklow town, so even if you don’t stop by for the full tour I would advise going just for the food!
I love Glendalough in the summer, aimlessly meandering through the wooded park taking pictures of the glen and the lakes and the monastic village is one of the best days out you can have, in my opinion. However, I recently had the pleasure of going to Glendalough on a damp, rainy, misty day and it is so beautiful in the mist. This is not one for the unathletic, as the main attraction of Glendalough is the walking, but it’s no hike either. Just remember where you’re going and don’t wear heels! The monastic village is another huge draw of Glendalough, and it is one of the best photograph spots in the area, with the church and the round tower and all of the old (and slightly newer) graves. It’s one of those places that give you a real grá áite and sense of place in the world, you can see why the monks chose it as the spot for their monastery.
Another sunny day out location! I guess I’ve not discovered the joys of the indoors in Wicklow yet, but Kilmacurragh is one of the best estate gardens in Wicklow. I personally think the best time of year to go is between March and April when the rhododendron are in flower, but this is a gorgeous location year round. It’s also completely free and boasts free tours which cannot be said for the other estate on this list. But what is really amazing is the range of plants and plant life which can be seen in this relatively small garden, because Kilmacurragh is an outpost of the national botanical gardens (located in Glasnevin) it has some very interesting and unusual plants. I’ll mention the huge monkey-puzzle tree, and the 600 year old yew, and the rhododendron given to the Actons by the Canavans to just name a few. This one is a great one for the whole family even if you don’t go on a tour, the gardens are spacious and so have lots of room for little ones to run around and honestly you could just go for the Instagram photos because it’s so beautiful.
This may actually be the most hidden gem on my list, though Kilmacurragh does come a close second! Tinakilly is a beautiful Victorian mansion once owned by the Halpin family but is now run as a hotel and restaurant. And from midday, every day, you can get afternoon tea. The tea consists of tiny sandwiches, pray they have coronation chicken when you go because they do the best coronation chicken sandwiches around, and tiny cakes, and scones with homemade jam and whipped cream that tastes like clouds, plus a whole pot of tea or coffee, though I’m sure they’d swap it out for a cold beverage of your choice because they’re accommodating like that. Wow that was one long sentence. I’m very enthusiastic about delicious food in beautiful settings, and the fully restored Victorian surroundings are right up my ally. Oh and if you’re going for this come hungry, afternoon tea sounds light but this is a straight up meal and it is so worth it. Plus if you’re not all gardened out from Powerscourt and Kilmacurragh you can always take a walk around the Tinakilly rose garden when you’re done. How terribly civilised!
Those are just five things to do in Co. Wicklow, and they are some of my favourites. Have I missed out any of your favourites? Have you any questions about Wicklow, or Ireland in general? Leave them in the comments below!
Thank you so much for reading!
Until Next Time,
Emily Jayne xo
Note: Not all photos are mine, please click on the photo for photo credit.