day trip from dublin
This half day trip from Dublin shows you Powerscourt House and Gardens, a remarkable location full of history, sculpture, Italian and Japanese gardens, exclusive food and clothes shopping and majestic views of County Wicklow.
Powerscourt House and Gardens
The Powerscourt Estate is located in Enniskerry, just over a 45 minute drive from the capital. The name originally comes from Irish Ath na Scerie; ath is a ford or place in a river where the water level can be crossed on foot and sceire is a Norse derivative word meaning rocky or jagged so the village here means the rocky ford. The Glencullen river flows through town.
Best Castles in Ireland
The first structure in this area was a castle built by a Norman knight named La Poer. The Normans were Frenchmen from northern France and they had taken Leinster in 1169 following the invite of the king Dermot MacMurrough. The English King Henry II granted lands in Ireland to Norman Knights providing they could keep them. This tower house, as the stone castles were called, held strategic control of the landscape and the Glencullen river. It had 68 rooms and was three stories tall. Over time like almost all the Norman families, the La Poers went native and became the Powers.
The Powers sold the castle and grounds to the Powerscourt family in the 1600s. A descendant of that family was Richard Wingfield who was the first Viscount Powerscourt. He hired the best architect in Ireland, who was the German Richard Cassels, to completely remodel the house and build him a modern mansion. That is what you are can see today.
Richard Cassels had designed the printing house in Trinity College, assisted on the Irish Parliament at College Green, designed the Rotunda Hospital and Leinster House (now the Irish Parliament). The Powerscourt townhouse took him ten years, 1731 to 1741. It was regarded as the finest mansion in Ireland so when King George IV visited Ireland in 1821 he wanted to stay here and was duly entertained by Viscount Powerscourt.
In the 1840s, while Ireland was in the throws of the Potato Famine, the 8th Viscount Powerscourt, Mervyn Wingfield, went on the grand tour of Europe. He visited the palaces and piazzas of Italy and Rome in particular and wanted the same when he came back. So he commissioned English sculptors to make copies of what he had seen in the continent such as the Laocoon, Triton Fountain, Apollo Belvedere among others. He also established the Japanese Gardens and the Pet Cemeteries. This remodelling of the site took 20 years.Slazenger Ownership
This site remained in Wingfield, or Powerscourt, hands until the 1960s when it was sold to the Slazenger family; the group that makes sports equipment. The interesting thing is Mervyn Wingfield, Viscount Powerscourt sold the property to Wendy Slazenger and they got married. So the man who owned the house got married to the woman he sold it to.Irish Filming Locations
There was unfortunately a fire here in 1974. The house was renovated afterwards but it no longer functioned as a residence. It became a retail unit for shops and a visitor centre. In recent years Powerscourt House and Gardens have been the site for movies such as The Count of Monte Cristo.Powerscourt Waterfall
Nearby Powerscourt Waterfall used to belong to the site but it is now separate. It is 121 metres or 450 feet high and is the highest waterfall in Ireland. The fight scene between King Arthur and Sir Lancelot from the movie Excalibur was filmed there.Dublin Day Tour
A half day excursion to Powerscourt House and Gardens costs €400 in total for two people and includes private transport in a Mercedes S Class, collection at your hotel, entrance tickets, the tour itself and return to your hotel at the end of the tour. Each additional person costs €100.
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