Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Powerscourt Gardens, Glendalough #Ireland @HilltopTreks #goaheadtours



19 November 2014
Again bleary eyed from the noise outside our window overnight, we bumped our way to breakfast then down to The Gresham Hotel to meet our day tour guide. Most of our Go Ahead Tour folks opted to stay in Dublin but we wanted to see Powerscourt and Glendalough. It was pretty overcast and the weather forecast was for rain after 1 p.m.; we packed our rain gear and hit the pavement.

We met up with Michael Byrne from Hilltop Treks at the Gresham and two young Aussie sisters then picked up a family of three from Columbia SC over by Trinity College.
Hilltop Trek Tours took four of us to Powerscourt Estate  (Irish: Eastát Chúirt an Phaoraigh), located in Enniskerry, County Wicklow. It is a large country estate which is noted for its house and landscaped gardens, today occupying 47 acres. The house, originally a 13th-century castle, was extensively altered during the 18th century by German architect Richard Cassels, starting in 1731 and finishing in 1741. A fire in 1974 left the house lying as a shell until it was renovated in 1996.


Today the estate is owned and run by the Slazenger family. It is a popular tourist attraction, and includes a golf course, an Avoca Handweavers restaurant, and an Autograph Collection hotel. The gardens were breathtaking, I can only image the colors in the spring and summer. The sculptures were tastefully placed according to the gardens they were in : The Italian Gardens, Tower Valley, Japanese Gardens,  Triton Lake, Pet Cemetery, Dolphin Pond and the Walled Gardens-where a wide variety of roses were still in bloom.

We viewed the magnificent gardens for a couple of hours then we all regrouped with Michael for lunch at Poppie’s in Enniskerry. Poppie’s was in the film “Leap Year”, (Amy Adams comes out of the coffee shop with coffee for herself and Matthew Goode) Great Poppie’s chicken for me and a sandwich for Jay. Michael informed us that the bus in the film went the wrong way around the roundabout.

Next stop The Powerscourt Waterfall. A key scene from the 1981 film Excalibur where Arthur fights Lancelot was filmed at this Waterfall.

Next up a visit to the farm in “P.S. I love You”, I haven’t seen it but the ladies on the tour were oohing and ahing. The farm is where Hillary Swank and Kathy Bates arrive to when they get to Ireland and the gate is where Gerard Butler stands at the end of the film.

Not many people know about the farm's location because it is a working farm and the owner doesn't think he can keep it going properly with tourist disruption. We were there off-season so no one else was around or looking for it.


We stopped briefly at Dellalossary Church. The site on which Derrylossary church is built is of pre-christian date as a worship place. A number of 'Bullaun Stones' have been located nearby. These stones were reputed to have been used for preparing foodstuffs for animals. The greatest concentration of Bullaun Stones in a single area is Glendalough where more than 30 such stones are scattered around the monastic settlement. We didn't see any at Dellalossary but were hoping to see some at Glendalough.


Next stop Glendalough (Valley of Two Lakes). By this time the fog had really rolled in and the rain had picked up so it was really hard to see the Upper Lake. We were a bit pressed for time so we didn't get to see the Lower Lake. The Upper Lake was used in the movie  “Leap Year” when Amy Adams and Matthew Goode crash a wedding on their way to Dublin.

Next and final stop was to the Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin, a hermit priest, and partly destroyed in 1398 by English troops. The round tower and St. Kevin’s Church were very impressive.­­ The graveyard was very cool.

We even found a  'Bullaun Stone'

Micheal dropped us back at The Gresham and we walked to The Black Sheep for dinner. All in all a great day, even with the rain.

Our next adventures happen through County Cork. We'll visit Irish National Stud, Rock of Cashel, and Cork City. So stay tuned...

Traditions of Ireland
Go Ahead Tours
November 16-26, 2014
Copyright © Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
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