Ireland in My Blood: Powerscourt Estate, Kilkenny, Jerpoint Abbey & Glendalough (Part Three)
The last part of our grand, but quick, adventure to Ireland in October of 2017 closes out with a few sights we visited along the way between Dublin and our ancestral research in Kells.
To look back at my previous posts, visit:
Part One: Discovering Our Ancestral Irish History
Part Two: Our Visit to Dublin
And, for a map and view of our route around Ireland's east side, here is a google map showing each stop.
Powerscourt Estate, House & Gardens
One of the most impressive palatial places to visit is Powerscourt Estate House & Gardens. We visited this beautiful form of architectural and landscaped perfection on our way from leaving Dublin and heading down to Kells. It was once a medieval castle then turned into this grand palace completed in 1741, so there is over 800 years of history here on this estate.
On this sprawling estate is a Palladian 68-room mansion with access for guests to tour taking in the ornate interiors and various exhibit spaces. There is a golf course, expansive gardens, fountains, a waterfall, and of course shops and an Avoca cafe.
We were able to get around majority of the grounds with the wheelchair, but with it being such a large estate I eventually got too exhausted to fully take in all of the additional sights on the outskirts of the property.
Definitely add this to your trip if you find yourself in the area. Great for families, groups, couples and single travelers of all ages. Lots to see and experience from architecture, history, hiking, gardens, shopping, dining and more.
We spent a little time in the town of Kilkenny whilst staying in Kells nearby. It is a very quaint medieval town centered by Kilkenny Castle. Our Airbnb host invited us to Kyteler's Inn one evening as he was performing traditional Irish music with his band. Put Kyteler's Inn on your list of places to visit and dine or drink at! The history of this place is so cool.
Established in 1263 and still operating as an Inn (hotel), this place has an interesting story of it's origins. From the Kyteler's Inn website...
"One of the oldest inns in Ireland, its first owner occupies a special place in the history of Kilkenny. The daughter of a Norman banker, Alice de Kyteler married four times and in the process amassed a considerable fortune. Local jealousies abounded and she was eventually accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be burned. Her excellent connections with local gentry ensured however that she was ‘spirited’ out of the country to England before the execution could take place."
The interiors are dark and moody and create an ambiance buzzing with stories and living history. Be sure to pop in even for just a pint. They have live music performances all week!
Just before heading to Kyteler's Inn, we ate a delicious seafood dinner at a pub just up the way, Lanigan's. Yummy food, traditional pub ambiance, cute & friendly staff.
I enjoyed greatly just walking around the center of town near the castle and up and down the alleys to discover quirky little shops and visual gems. This is the magic and mystery of visiting truly medieval places - there are so many nooks and crannies to explore. You never know what you might uncover in the cracks of an old town or village!
We made an impromptu stop at Jerpoint Park while on a driving tour around the area through various small quaint and picturesque villages. This is the part where I wish I had just come into an insane amount of money and could on a whim buy a cottage or two. For now, dreaming is as close as I get to that reality!
Jerpoint just appeared as we drove through the town and decided it was a good time to make a pit stop. It was a beautifully done exhibit and preserved abbey ruins. In Scotland, I did a very similar approach of randomly popping into various small villages and towns to see what they had to offer somewhat off the beaten path.
For a truly magic escape, we ventured out to Glendalough. For a long while, there isn't much to look at for several miles beyond rolling green hillsides and the occasional loose sheep on the curving roads. Then all of a sudden, this idyllic landscape appears surrounded by water and trees. This vast landscape is part of Wicklow Mountains National Park, so there are many options for campers, backpackers, hikers, scenic tour buses, groups, etc. Next door to the interpretive center for Glendalough Monastic City is Wicklow Heather Restaurant & House. There are several B&B's and accommodation options around this area. We ended up just coming out for a day trip on the way back to Dublin Airport hotel, but we ate a delicious fish & chips lunch at the Heather Restaurant.
After our lunch, I left my mom to rest at the Visitor Centre while I took the mini hike and journey to the Monastic City. The entire view os it and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking, If you have more energy and stamina, I highly encourage to make a day (or two) of this trip and spend time hiking the various trails through the hillsides and along the river.
This whole experience felt somewhat like I was in a scene of Lord of the Rings. At times, my brain was trying to process how beautiful this place actually is but was interrupted with thoughts that this can no-way be real and has to be CG'd or something! But in reality, this is entirely and completely natural and real. Absolutely put this location on your list for your trip to Ireland, you won't be disappointed.
Although it was an extremely short trip, it was everything and beyond our expectations. We were able to make connections to part of our ancestral story that we didn't even know existed just months before this trip. It was a gift that both of us will forever cherish.
There are many more places to see and visit in Ireland, so I am sure I will be making a return visit to explore new possibilities and adventures.