There have been many hints towards the possibility of staycations in Ireland this coming summer. With the economic downturn in the hospitality and small business sectors, it would be a great opportunity for us to give back to our local amenities and businesses by staying within our country during these summer holidays.
- Belmont Demesne
In the Summer of 2020, I visited Belmont with a friend. We embarked on a trail that brought us to the top of the ‘Little Sugar Loaf’ and the views were spectacular.
Situated near Greystones, the Demesne is full of bike trails that range from challenging terrains to gentle loops that meander through the estate. There’s also a purpose built pump track for bikers to hone their skills. Fatbike Adventures offers bike rental, sales, and servicing. It also has a cafe called “Bak’d” which serves delicious food, ideal after a long bike ride or hike.
According to their website, Belmont also has a lot of history attached to it:
“The Brabazon family has lived in Co. Wicklow since around 1540. Belmont House, the ruins of which can still be seen today, was built between 1774 and 1781 by Lt. Colonel George Rawson. The house and lands reverted to the Brabazon family in 1841 and since then, the family have been custodians of this beautiful estate and working farm. The family has a long history of championing outdoor pursuits from scouting, to summer camps and bushcraft. Belmont Estate has a rich film pedigree and has been the location for a host of blockbusters including Vikings, Calvary and Into the Badlands. Arthur’s Barn is one of the original sets from King Arthur, shot here in Ireland, starring Clive Owen and Kiera Knightly.”
Belmont Demesne offers a great opportunity to explore what the ‘ancient’ East has to offer.
- Avoca Mills
Avoca, not being too far from my hometown, is a place of great childhood memories. Located in the heart of the quaint village of Avoca and dating all the way back to 1723, the weaving mills are full of character. You may know of Avoca Handweavers from the businesses scattered around Dublin and elsewhere. The mills are open to tourists (prior to restrictions), and visitors can see first hand the creation of their iconic Aran-like blankets and jumpers.
“Built on the banks of the Avoca River from where it used to draw its power, you’ll find a large Avoca Store and Café and a working handweaving mill. The original whitewashed buildings of the old mill now house the store which carries an extensive selection of Avoca favourites – clothing, soft furnishing, gifts, food from the Avoca Pantry range and, as with all our shops, much more besides. And of course, a cafe too, which is famous for its delicious lunches and home baking. Bus and Tour Parties can also book The Hay Loft, a lovely bright dining room specifically held for larger groups.”
With beautiful food, amazing scenery, and blankets to die for, you can’t go wrong with visiting one of Ireland’s oldest working mills.
- Avondale House
Similarly, as a child, I was often brought with my sister to Avondale House to ‘run a muck’. It’s vast grounds mean that it’s a perfect location for children to play and explore. There’s a large amount of history attached to the grounds, being the birthplace of Charles Stewart Parnell and it spans over 500 acres towards the town of Rathdrum. The house is now open as a museum for those interested in history. It also has a cafe, toilets, picnic areas, and a children’s play area, including a great playground.
It holds the tallest collection of trees in Ireland and the grounds provide different walks spanning from 1-5 hours.
Built in 1777, the house itself is currently shut for redevelopment, and has also been undergoing preservation work. However, it may be open for the summer 2021 period. Avondale House offers a great opportunity to visit a historical landmark, but is also a great place for families to enjoy a picnic and an adventure!
Obviously, in a list about Wicklow attractions we need to mention Glendalough, a place full of history and beauty carved into the Wicklow Mountains. The monastic ruins here were founded by St.Kevin back in the 6th century and it was known as one of the most important monasteries ]for pilgrimage and as a place of learning too.
Glendalough has a visitor centre that is full of historical information, relics, and presentations. There are numerous hikes that take visitors up into the heart of the Wicklow Mountains. One is known as the “Sphinx walk”, which I have done myself numerous times, and would highly recommend for the views alone.
On the other side of the visitor centre is the Trinity Church and further east is St Saviour’s church, which has Romanesque carvings.
At the Upper Lake along a 20 minute scenic walk down the valley from the main site is Teampall na Skellig, the site of St Kevin’s first church. This small Romanesque church has ancient grave stones around it, some of which mark graves from the O’Toole family. The pretty Poulanass waterfall is also near the Upper Lake.
Glendalough is full of amazing scenery, beautiful hikes, and Irish history.
- Powerscourt House and Gardens
Powerscourt may be famously known for its waterfall and beautiful gardens, but it also has a historical house and a business which showcases Irish designers.
It has a magnificent garden, spanning 47 acres, and was voted the 3rd Best Garden in the World by National Geographic. Just 35 minutes from Dublin city, it’s a piece of paradise tucked away in the Wicklow landscape.
The waterfall is a 6km walk from the house and spans a height of 398feet. Also steeped in history, it states on their website:
“The 1st Viscount Powerscourt was keen to make his mark and assert his position as one of importance in society, so he set about transforming the medieval castle at Powerscourt into a grand mansion. In 1730 he commissioned the German-born architect Richard Castle to build Powerscourt House, a 68 room mansion which was completed in 1741. The mansion was designed around the medieval castle in the style of Palladian architecture and featured baroque dome-roofed towers on either side, giving it in the words of one architectural historian, “The massive dignity of a great Italian Renaissance villa.”
Many couples have also said “I do” on the grounds or have come to the house to take their wedding photographs. Powerscourt also offers a beautiful setting for your ceremony and a meal within the house.
Wicklow is full of beauty and is known by the name ‘The Garden of Ireland’. This is because it has so many scenic amenities that you can easily travel to with your family. You should check it out!