Russborough House is a period residence that can be found nestled in Blessington, Co. Wicklow. The house and surrounding grounds are open to the public, creating a scenic restful environment – a feast for the senses.
Whether escaping from the city to stroll around the gardens, or venturing to the National Birds of Prey Center, there is a host of activities to try at Russborough. Guided tours of the house are offered at lunchtime and the early afternoon daily (lasting about 50 minutes). There is a maze and walled garden within the grounds, along with a children’s play area and a Fairy Trail. There is an on site Artist’s courtyard, featuring artisanal products from the area such as candles, ceramics, wooden sculptures and art works. If the art really takes your fancy, there is also the opportunity to try one of the crafts in courses run by a selection of the artists.
Russborough House hosts several events throughout the year. Upcoming events include a candlelit dinner at the Palladian Mansion on the 21st and 22nd of October. This sounds like a really special experience, including a mulled wine reception, a tour of the candlelit house (including music performances in the music room) followed by a three course meal. Tickets are 75 euro, but I’ve no doubt they are well worth it. There are also tickets available for a performance by The Celtic Tenors in June which could make an excellent Christmas present!. Find more info on how to book here.
For the animal lovers amongst you, there are sheepdog demonstrations run by a local farmer Michael. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can come and experience the skill of the border collies, their ability to understand orders given and organise the sheep. You can also learn about the different sheep breeds and the history behind sheep farming in Ireland.
The National Bird of Prey center is located at Russborough House and invites all animal enthusiasts to come meet the birds. The center is open to guests Wednesday to Sunday, with flying displays at the weekend. Entry is 8 euro for adults and 6 for children. Alternatively there is a family ticket for 25 euro. Some of the birds at the center include a Golden Eagle, Red Kite, Barn Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Snowy Owl and Kestrel. There is also the opportunity to take a “Hawk Walk” a walk through the grounds with a Harris Hawk trained to return to your glove. The walks start at 12 and must be pre-booked on their website.
The House Itself
Russborough house is a Palladian Mansion built from local granite 275 years ago. It has been in possession of three different families during this time. Seven generations of the Earl of Milltown lived in the house until 1930. The next residents were Colonel & Maev Daly along with their children. In 1952, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit lived in Russborough until 2005 when it was given to the The Alfred Beit Foundation for the public to experience. The house is home to 50 paintings and drawings, along with magnificent furnishings collected over 300 years. A self guided 3D tour allows visitors to view footage of Sir Alfred’s travels from a collection of his pictures and film footage discovered at the House. This feature allows guests to see through the eyes of the Baits and their lifestyle during the 1920’s and 30’s.
Russborough house also has a tearoom for hungry adventurers, providing hot and cold lunches, cakes and treats. Open from 10 till 5 everyday!
Russborough House is less than an hour from Dublin, and with a Bus Eireann service (the 65 bus) coming from Poolbeg St, everyone can have the opportunity to visit one of the wonderfully preserved historic houses in Ireland. For more information see their comprehensive website.