A stone’s throw from the picture-perfect village of Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland, lies the magnificent world-renowned Powerscourt Estate. The estate comprises 47 acres of exceptional gardens, waterfalls, a magnificent house, a Championship Golf Course and a fabulous Ritz Carlton Hotel.
The gardens here are for all seasons, however,I particularly like visiting in Autumn, when the tree-lined avenue leading to Powerscourt House is sight to behold when the leaves have turned the colours of Autumn, and the grass verges on either side are a carpet of leaves. The view into the valley below and on to the mountains in the distance is without doubt one of my favorite views of all.
Powerscourt House now houses designer shops, selling the best in Irish gifts, clothing and furniture, and a restaurant selling the best of Irish food. It also houses a lovely museum of childhood, Tara’s Palace, a magnificent doll’s house, and a selection of dolls, teddy bears and other toys. The ballroom is however still used for weddings and other functions
Tragedy struck Powerscourt Estate in 1974 when the house was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt, however not to its former glory, and reopened in 1996.
Once you go through the house and step out in to the gardens, you enter another world. The formal Italian gardens stretch out in front of you, and the view is framed by a backdrop of the Wicklow Mountains completing the most perfect vista imaginable. These gardens first began to take shape over two and a half centuries ago, and are still enjoyed today by locals and tourists alike.
The Italian garden is the first garden you enter, and it is the main garden of the estate. It has the effect of stopping you in your tracks. The magnificent terraces with their many beautiful statues lead down to the Triton Lake, which is watched over by a pair of life sized winged horses. Looking beyond the gardens you can see the majestic Sugar Loaf Mountain in the distance.
The Triton Lake is covered in so many water lilies, you almost feel you could walk on them. Further on, you come upon the delightful Japanese gardens, laid out in 1908. Autumn is truly the time of year for these gardens, as the Japanese maples come into their own, and the magnificent colors add a vibrancy to the gardens.Dotted all over the garden are enchanting little bridges, water ways and grottoes. A great place to sit and enjoy the view is on a stone seat perched high above the garden, known as Lord Londonderry’s Seat, as it was here he sat himself and enjoyed this very same view, many years a go.
Rest and admiration time over, I backtrack slightly in the opposite direction to The Pepperpot Tower in Tower Valley. This is a truly romantic spot in a wooded area of the gardens, containing magnificent trees dating back over 200 years. You can climb the fairy-tale like tower, and at the top you are greeted by a canopy of beautiful trees and views to the Wicklow Mountains beyond.
Next you can wander back in the direction of the Pet’s Cemetery, where the Wingfield and Slazanger families who lived at and owned the estate buried their many and varied animals over the years. The headstones are a delight to read. Then I usually follow the path around the Rhododendron Walk and arrive at the Dolphin Pond, before going into one of the oldest part of the estate, the Walled garden. This garden contains a magnificent herbaceous border, and a more formally planted garden, as well as a Rose garden and a reflection pond, known as Julia’s Memorial, after the 7th Viscounts mother. Also not to be missed, is the 240 year old Bamberg Gate, which came from the cathedral at Bamberg in Germany.
Powerscourt Estate is a true gem. It is the perfect place for a family day, shopping for Mom, a game of golf for dad in the Championship Golf course, a fun walk in the gardens with the kids, a visit to to the children’s museum, and lunch or dinner in the restaurant, or indeed on the terrace overlooking the gardens, weather permitting.
The Ritz Carlton Hotel on site at Powerscourt offers its guests an experience in sophistication and grandeur. It offers fine dining in The Gordon Ramsey restaurant, and the authentic Irish experience in McGills traditional Irish pub, or pampering sessions in the luxury spa and a wonderful night’s sleep in one of the 200 opulently furnished bedrooms. Or perhaps just pop in for sumptuous afternoon tea in the Sugar Loaf lounge.
Whether you visit for a day or stay for you vacation, Powerscourt Estate will not fail to deliver and impress. There are also a wealth of things to do in the surrounding area. Take a long drive around the beautiful Wicklow Mountains, over the Sally Gap to The Guinness Lake, drop into Johnnie Foxes the highest pub in Ireland, take a trip down to Glendalough, the most important Monastic site in Ireland, or spend the day at the fabulous Powerscourt Waterfall. Also, be sure to take a stroll around the lovely Enniskerry Village, exploring its quaint shops and eateries.
All of this is on offer just a 30 minute drive from the center of Dublin City, and an hour’s drive from Dublin Airport.
To see a further selection of photographs of Powerscourt, check out my post on Dispatches From Dublin.