Wicklow County – The Garden of Ireland

Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Glendalough, a 6th-century monastic settlement

Glendalough, a 6th-century monastic settlement

 

If you’ve never been to Ireland, you should go. If you’ve never been to Dublin, you should definitely go. While you’re there enjoying the sights and sounds that Dublin has to offer, you really must find the time to squeeze in at least one Wild Wicklow Tour. You won’t regret it.

First of all, Wild Wicklow Tour is an award-winning business that provides excellent service by offering comfortable coaches and a well-planned day into what the Irish refer to as the Garden of Ireland. Denis O’Reilly, the owner of the company, was our driver and guide. His attention to detail, sense of humor and storytelling ability made the whole experience not only informative but full of fun. For a mere €28, senior citizens and children even less, you can sit back and relax knowing that you are in competent hands. Furthermore, the little details and bits and pieces of information that only a local guide would be able to share adds a bit of spice and intrigue to the journey.

There are various pickup points to choose from depending on where your hotel might be located. I was picked up around 9 o’clock in the morning at the Dublin Discover Ireland Center on Suffolk Street along with a half-dozen other tourists. Our group was an eclectic mix of travelers from many different countries. No matter where we all hailed from, we had one thing in common. We were anxious to travel beyond the city limits to County Wicklow.

 

Ha' Penny Bridge over the Liffey River in Dublin

Ha’ Penny Bridge over the Liffey River in Dublin

As Mr. O’Reilly drove us about the town to the various pickup points, we received a lesson on the history of Dublin. Don’t worry! It was painless. This short city tour not only brought the city of Dublin alive for us but also provided a better understanding of its layout. Both proved helpful later on during my trip.

 

Once we left the city of Dublin, we enjoyed a beautiful coastal drive, stopping for about thirty minutes to stretch our legs and enjoy the sights of Sandy Cove. Mr. O’Reilly informed us that the waters in Sandy Cove were about 15°C that morning, but regardless of the temperature of the water, year-round there is a fairly large portion of the community committed to taking a daily swim. Yep, they were there as predicted.

 

Our second stop was a delightful coffee break. We enjoyed wandering the grounds of the old Jameson estate surrounded by ancient trees and lovely gardens. Yes, that would be the Jameson Whiskey family. Taking our coffee or tea in the beautiful Avoca store on the grounds was a real treat. Avoca stores truly do provide some of Ireland’s best retail experiences, nothing but quality goods. Their food is impressive as well. I sampled a lovely scone with butter and jam that complemented my cup of tea to a tee.

Jameson gardens

Jameson gardens

Avoca goodies

Avoca goodies

The highlight of the trip was Glendalough, a 6th-century monastic settlement that captured all of the mysticism and legendary qualities of Ireland. We experienced some rather heavy downpours off and on during the day, but were provided with huge, sturdy umbrellas for the walkabout and tour of the monastery. I have to say that the low-lying mist truly enhanced the look of the wild and lonely landscape. Ireland is an island of outstanding natural beauty second to none. If you’re a nature lover, you will think you have died and gone to heaven.

On the Ground of the Monastery

On the Ground of the Monastery

 

The second lake on the walk through the woods

The second lake on the walk through the woods

 

I really enjoyed the walk through the woods after visiting the monastery which took us to the edges of two beautiful lakes. Mr. O’Reilly met up with us at the second lake where he treated the entire group to a shot of Jameson Whiskey no less. There was something rather magical about standing next to that lake with a group of people from all over the world as we lifted our glasses.

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the bridge to the trail

Crossing the bridge to the trail

If you’re worrying about food, don’t. There is substantial time provided on this tour for a pub lunch at a traditional Irish pub. Our particular lunch was served in a warm and inviting room with a peat fire burning brightly.

Pub lunch

Pub lunch

Speaking of peat, we spent some time driving through the barren bogland where peat has been cut for years. Free ranging sheep and wide-open spaces took on an eery appearance when shrouded in dense fog. Peat gives off a lovely warm heat and a delicious scent that was carried on our clothes back into the bus after our lunch was completed. There is nothing quite like it.

I might add that the pub lunch is not included in the price of your ticket. I would also like to add that the walk through the woods to the two lakes was not a strenuous walk and therefore does not require being in peak physical condition in order to attempt it. It felt good to be outdoors and I would have loved to have spent much longer exploring.

When our day came to an end, we were all dropped off at our original pickup points. I left the group to return to my hotel room with dozens of beautiful visions dancing in my head and a desire to see more. Oh, well, all the more reason to return to Ireland as soon as possible. I simply can’t get my fill of the Emerald Isle.

This trip was sponsored by Wild Wicklow Tour and Failte Ireland.

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