South of Dublin: Mansions & Monasteries in County Wicklow
The gardens and bogland of Country Wicklow begin within a surprisingly quick 15-minute drive south of downtown Dublin. You can easily visit the sights listed here in a day trip from Dublin and be back in time for dinner. Dublin's tourist office has information on County Wicklow; otherwise, you'd have to drive all the way through the region to Wicklow Town and the area tourism office ([tel] 0404/69-117) on Fitzwilliam Square. This region is best seen by car, but if you're without wheels, Gray Line Tours ([tel] 01/661-9666) takes busloads of tourists from Dublin to the major sights from May to September.
A few miles south of Dublin on the N11, just past the town of Enniskerry, lies Powerscourt Gardens ([tel] 01/286-7676), 1,000 acres of late 18th-century gardens, grottoes, and fountains that make up one of the prime examples of "civilized naturalism" in Europe. The huge manor house was gutted by fire in 1974, but restorations are underway. About four miles on is the 400-foot Powerscourt Waterfall, tallest in Ireland (I wouldn't recommend walking it[md]the road is quite narrow).
The old Military Road (R115) slices through the wildest heights of the Wicklow Mountains. This eerie peatscape covered with heather and reddish scrub looks like it belongs somewhere on Mars, with only the Sally Gap pass and Glenmacnass waterfalls breaking up the moody boglands. At Laragh, detour west to visit one of the most secluded and magical (except when inundated by tour buses in summer) of Ireland's ruined monastic sites, Glendalough ([tel] 0404/45-325), filled with high crosses, round towers, pretty lakes, and medieval stone buildings. All the sights listed here are open daily from about 9:30am to dusk.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in September 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.