Day Two - Powerscourt House & Gardens...


Located near Enniskerry (Co. Wicklow) and only 18 miles south from Dublin City, the Powerscourt Estate is a stunning Palladian house with 19 hectares, 47 acres, of landscape gardens (well known as one of the biggest and most beautiful landscape gardens in Ireland).

The house was originally a 13th century castle. Later, in the 18th century, it was extensively transformed by the German architect Richard Cassels, between 1731 and 1741. Just opposite the house there is a golf course, with great views over the Wicklow Mountains. A fire in 1974 destroyed almost completely the house, being was renovated in 1996.

Today the Powerscourt Estate is owned by the Slazenger family and it has been converted into one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland. Several shops and also an Avoca Handweavers cafe-restaurant with delicious light meals are located in the interior of the mansion. From here to will get the access into the landscape gardens (with more than 200 varieties of trees and shrubs) where you will need to stop every five steps in order to enjoy the incredible views, specially in a bright and sunny day.



The Italian Gardens, designed by Daniel Robertson, will welcome you as soon as you start going down the stone stairs. There are two possible walking routes (one takes about on hour, the other about one and a half) and we really liked both. So take your time and just try to follow all the paths and trails you find. That is the best way to know into detail these magnificent gardens.


Just in the front of the Triton Lake, almost in the middle of the gardens, you can see two beautiful sculptures of wing horses. These are heraldic supporters of the Wingfield arms and were finished in zinc by Professor Hugo Hagen, in Berlin, in 1869.



The garden terraces were finished during the 19th century and it took 100 men around 12 years to complete. On the top terraces are statues of Apollo, Diane, Belvedere and Fame and Victory which date from the mid 19th century.


In the middle of the gardens you can walk around the Triton Lake and enjoy stunning views of the house and terrace gardens. The Fountain in the center of the lake is based on the fountain in the Piazza Barberini in Rome. From here follow the signs to the Japanese Gardens, built during the 18th century and considered to be the finest example of this style in Ireland.


From the Japanese Gardens go to the Pets Cemetery (one of the largest of thins kind in Europe whose tombstones have been described as "astonishingly personal") and continue to the Dolphin Pond and finish in the Walled Gardens, the longest herbaceous border in the country (do not forget that they normally close the Walled Gardens at 5.30 pm during the summer, please always check, when purchasing your tickets in the information desk, the closing times to avoid "last minute surprises").




Closing the Walled Gardens, at the end of you walk, you will cross the Bamberg Gate, brought from the Cathedral at Bamberg, Germany and dating from 1770.

The price we paid in July 2009 for an adult admission was 8 euro. You could also check all the admission rates, opening times and much, much more by just clicking

It is said that inspiration for the garden design came from the visits by Powerscourt Viscounts to ornamental gardens in the Palace of Versailles, Schönbrunn Palace (Vienna) and Schwetzingen Castle near Heidelberg (Germany). The garden development took over 20 years to complete, in the 19th century.

The house and gardens were used as film location for Stanley Kubrick's
Barry Lyndon (in my modest opinion, one of the best movies ever made). Also the Count of Monte Cristo (2002) and David Copperfield (2000) were filmed in the house.

... and the Powerscourt Waterfall

Just 6 km from the Powerscourt House and Gardens you must view the Powerscurt Waterfall, the highest in Ireland at 121m, falling its waters into the Dargle river. Formed over ten thousand years ago by an ice formation, it takes its waters from the surrounding mountains and bogs, and that is why the colour of the water in the Powerscourt Waterfall is brown, something that will bring for sure your attention once you are there.

The waterfall is also surrounded by km and km of woods and specimen trees, with plenty of family picnic areas, woodland walks, playground for children and a bar-cafeteria for snacks and cold drinks.

Powerscourt Waterfall,
comparing the size of the people on the ground you can get an idea of how high this waterfall is

Around 1858 the 7th Viscount Powerscourt established here a deer park and also successfully introduced the Japanese Sikka deer to Ireland.

We recommend you to start your Powerscourt Day trip in the Waterfall and enjoy the fantastic woodland walks for couple of hours. Then it will be time to go back and drive to the Powerscourt House and Gardens where you can taste a light meal in preparation for an afternoon walk into the gardens.

The next pictures will show you how peaceful and enjoyable the woodland around the Powerscourt Waterfall can be, following sometimes the paths along the Dargle river. The whole area is like a natural haven for flora and fauna that you can explore in close detail while walking on the several natural trails.

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There is an admission fee to be paid at the entrance of the Powerscourt Woodland. The last time we were there (in the middle of July 2009) it was just 5 euro. There are also special rates for family and groups. If you live in Dublin or near Wicklow, it could be a fantastic picnic day trip for you and your family or friends.

By the way, the Powersocurt Waterfall was one of the the film locations for John Booman's
Excalibur (1981).

Directions: from Dublin City and also from Cork, drive the M50 until the exit number 17, to Bray. You will see anyway sign roads showing you the way to the Powerscourt House and gardens. Very easy to find. Drive carefully the final kilometers to the Powerscourt Estate as the roads are very narrow and you might find even people walking or cycling on your way. From Laragh (Glendalough): take the R755 that will bring you almost to Enniskerry. Sign roads are very easy to be followed.

At the end of the day for a lovely dinner and a nice evening walk on the beach, drive to Bray, a few km south from Dublin City, on the coast, and not too far away from the Powerscourt House.

back to Enjoying Long Weekends

Text and pictures copyright © 2009 by Raúl Corral