Getting out of Dublin is no small task, especially when saddled with a temperamental GPS and a shoddy map. Despite these less-than-ideal conditions, Karlin and I were able to find highway N11 and pointed our brand new Renault south. Powerscourt House and Gardens was our destination.
Located just about 30 minutes out of Dublin, Powerscourt was an easy drive and one of our must-see destinations. To call the 68-room mansion a house is like calling St. Peter’s Basilica a chapel. Designed around a medieval castle dating back to the 13th century, the present-day house was completed in 1741.
We arrived to the estate to see a tour bus and several greenhouses with plants, flowers, and gardening tools for sale. Karlin and I made our way into the house where, for less than 10 Euros each, we bought our tickets to explore the estate.
On the first floor of the house were several places to grab food, including the Terrace Cafe. Soups, salads, sandwiches, and the like, appeared on the menu, but I imagine the view overlooking the gardens is what draws most people in. Having eaten breakfast, we ventured over to the Avoca shop.
Known the world over for their beautiful throws, Avoca sucked us in like moths to flames. Their vivid colors and supple texture were a feast for the eyes and touch.
Avoca has been handweaving since 1723 in Ireland’s oldest mill. Having moved beyond blankets, the company now produces clothing, scarves, and even umbrellas.
Deciding to revisit on our way out for souvenirs, Karlin and I battled the crowds and escaped to the gardens. Having never been to Versailles or any other grand European garden, I was blown away by the expanse. The terraces of the Italian Garden were like windows opening up to a most spectacular view. With Sugar Loaf Mountain in the far distance and Triton Lake in the near distance, I couldn’t decide what to look at first.
The exquisite detail in within the ironwork and the meticulous mosaic design that made up the terraces were mind boggling. I couldn’t imagine how many people and years it took to create such a beautiful sight. I wandered down the grand staircase towards the lake. Throughout the garden were fountains and giant sculptures of gods and mythical creatures.
No garden worth its salt would be complete without flowers. Being that it was early April, spring was just arriving to Ireland. As expected, everything was green, which made the pops of reds, purples, whites, yellows, and pinks even more pronounced.
Guarding Triton Lake, were two, life-sized winged horses. And within the lake was a fountain modeled after the one in Piazza Barberini in Rome. It was a divine site.
Karlin and I didn’t have the time to explore the gardens like they deserved, so we skipped the Pets’ Cemetery, Dolphin Pond, and Walled Garden. Fascinated by Japanese gardens, I really wanted to spend some time in that area of the estate.
The Japanese Garden was in brilliant, full bloom. The pink azaleas and white cherry blossoms dazzled and filled the air with the most fragrant scent. Winding paths took us through palms into the mossy walls of the grotto. We listened to trickling streams as we crossed over Japanese-style bridges before finally relaxing in the pagoda.
In leaving the Japanese Garden, we walked through a densely-wooded path. Pine, redwood, fir, spruce, cedar, and even the giant sequoia, offered a stark contrast to the flower-filled Japanese Garden. The 250 tree varieties, many of which were planted in the last two centuries, provided much to look at. The varying shapes, textures, and colors of green, along with the labels on the trunks, helped us distinguish the different varieties of trees.
The path opened up to a clearing and the Pepperpot Tower. Located in the area known as Tower Valley, we found the tower modeled after a pepperpot from Lord Powerscourt’s dining table. Surrounded by cannons and shrubs that looked like budding roses, Pepperpot Tower is said to offer the best view of the gardens. We ascended the winding staircase to find ourselves standing where Lord Powerscourt once scouted troop movements. The change in perspective was worth the climb; the vista seemed to extend all the way back to Dublin.
Karlin and I gave all the time we could to Powerscourt. Ginger, owner of Time Travel Tours, routed our drive to Waterford through the scenic Wicklow Mountains. We needed to hit the road, but not before buying Avoca blankets and certainly not before getting a jumping picture.
If you’re heading to Ireland or the British Isles, consider using Ginger and Time Travel Tours. She knows Ireland like the back of her hand. This post was republished on the Powerscourt Blog found here with my permission.