Among The Wicklow Hills

22 April 2010

We woke up early to a day that couldn’t decide if it was going to be overcast or sunny, something that we would soon work out was not unique about the Irish weather.  We decided to get some washing done as this was day eight since we left Australia. Once that was done, we headed off to Rathdrum which was about a 15 minute drive from the cottage.  Chris had been suffering from a sore throat for days and it wasn’t getting any better.  We stopped at the Tourist info office, which was just a shed, and spoke to the women there about what to see in the area and also if she could point us in the direction of a doctor.  With the doctors visit done and some antibiotics for Chris we had a stroll around the town.  We came upon a little pub which was featured in two movies, “A Terrible Beauty” filmed in 1960 starring Robert Mitchum and Anne Hayward and “Michael Collins” filmed in 1996 starring Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts.  Rathdrum was an interesting little town that has suffered from the economic downturn.  There is a large redevelopment in the middle of town that has had no progress for two years, and looks like it will need to be totally demolished and started`again.

Leaving the town of Rathdrum we set off for the drive to Glendalough to see St Kevin’s Church and the Roundtower. We were a little surprised to find that the cemetery around the church was still active, although we did find out later that use of the cemetery is restricted to those that can prove they have a family connection to others buried there. We spent some time here taking in the atmosphere of the area and taking photos.  We strolled through the little gift shop there and then headed off on the scenic drive through the Wicklow Hills back to Avoca.  The trees are only just starting to bud and we could imagine how beautiful the area would be once the trees had all their greenery.

The owner of the cottage we were staying in told us not to forget to drop into  the old village store cum pub before we left.  She said that combined store and pub establishments were now dying out in Ireland and we should experience one.  We stopped into Ballinaclash, not far from Avoca and went into Phelan’s Pub which had a dividing wall.  One side was the little store and the other side was the pub.  The publican just walked along the counter from one side to the other serving people in both the store and the pub.

23 April 2010

Today we drove to Powerscourt Estate and Gardens about 3km from Enniskerry in Co Wicklow.  We watched a couple of audio visuals giving the history of the place over the years.  This is a beautiful old Estate that has been  restored over recent years.  The house was one of the grandest houses in Ireland before being destroyed by fire in 1974.  The ground floor has recently been restored and accommodates a number of small shops and Cafe’s.

The gardens, were quite spectacular … very Victorian and grand.  We especially liked the Pet Cemetery and the Pepperpot Tower with all it’s cannons.  This was all for show as there was no way the cannons could ever be used for defence. We could just imagine the fun that the children of the estate could have had playing in this area if they’d been allowed to.  Before we left, we visited the Avoca shop within the Estate.  This place makes the most incredible cheese soda bread among other things.  We have discovered that in Ireland soda bread is very popular and is what is mostly eaten.

Off again to finish off the day.  We drove into Wicklow to try buy a broadband stick for our laptop only to be told by the guy at 3 [who had spent years living in Australia] that he wouldn’t sell us one as fellow Aussies because they don’t really work that well through Ireland.  He told us to go to Maccas or to the major shopping centres which have free broadband.  This has been a bit of a bummer as we have not been as much in touch as we would have liked to have been.

While in Wicklow we visited the Black Castle ruins which were interesting but a little disappointing given we’d walked through bitterly cold winds to get there.  After a short walk along the Wicklow docks, we then drove on to Avondale House to see the house and gardens but it was closed.  Oh well can’t come back as we are moving onto Limerick tomorrow morning.

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