We decided for day three to cover West Wicklow, and we started off at Russborough House.
On arrival, the house looks quite stately, as it is, the outside is plain in design, not ornate in any way, which is a complete contrast to when you step inside. We were blown away by the grandeur; incredible paintings, tapestries, decorative plasterwork, fireplaces, clocks, furniture, pianos…I mean this house has it all. We ended up spending far more time here than planned because there was so much to see.
There is a shop in the basement that had the most unusual and beautifully made products in it, and off the shop were several rooms that had little exhibitions about the previous owners of the house.
There was a lovely café on the ground floor (of course we had to stop to sample the coffee: delicious). Outside the café is a spacious playground and a maze. We never say no to a challenge, so we had to have a go at the maze. Thankfully they gave us a map as we may not have got out of there till the following morning. My mother takes pride in getting lost; “it’s all part of the fun”.
We didn’t get to do the many walks available here as we had many more places to visit, so we got our stamp and said we’ll come back another day. We drove on to Hollywood, to the Hollywood café and had some lunch there and got another stamp. From there we went to The Glen Shop and got another stamp and persuaded the lady behind the counter to pose for a photo. We have been blown away by how friendly everyone has been along the way.
Just a minute down the road from here was Castleruddery Stone Circle. There was an information board explaining all about the Druidical circle and the site was very pretty.
Next, we headed for Rathgall Hill Fort. It took us about 25 minutes to drive there, and there was some beautiful scenery along the way. The ditches along the road were covered in the most beautiful white flowers, and we enjoyed every minute of the drive. We also stopped at Talbotstown to admire the mountain views and the unusual church as it caught our eyes as we were driving through.
Rathgall Hill Fort had a car park at the entrance and an information board explaining the history of the fort. So, we walked up to the field where it was and were amazed by this structure. It was enormous! The walls were about six feet in width. We took lots of photos and walked the whole way around the site in awe of how it was still standing after thousands of years. The mountain views all around us were also fabulous.
Next stop: Shillelagh, where we popped into the Olde Shillelagh Stickmakers to get our next stamp. We had a quick chat with the owner, Liam, who had fascinating tales of the history of the famous sticks and about the different types he makes (all by hand). From there we went to Tinahely farm shop, and then to Londis, Aughrim to get more stamps and finally we arrived in The Woodenbridge Hotel for the last stamp of our journey.
We met Ger, the managing director of the hotel, at reception when we were getting our stamp. He presented us with our Wicklow Ambassador Certificates and badges which had been sent down from Wicklow. My mother was over the moon receiving her cert and we both felt delighted that we had accomplished such a great adventure over the course of 3 days!
We decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal in their new Smokehouse. Neither of us had been in it before. The setting is spectacular. You feel like you could be anywhere in the world. It is set over a river which flows under the wooden bridge. There are trees all around and a lovely walk along the river. The restaurant/bar is decked out beautifully. There are different sections to sit in. We chose to sit outside with the roof over us.
They have a varied menu and we found it difficult to decide what to have, mainly because we wanted everything. In the end we settled for the seafood board. This consisted of the tastiest sea bass fillets I have ever had, charred prawns and a huge pot of mussels. On the side, there were chips and coleslaw. It was all beautifully presented and really good quality. I didn’t think I’d finish the whole dish, but it was too tasty to leave behind.
Dessert? It would be rude not to. I had Wexford strawberries and whipped ice-cream, and my mother had the chocolate brownie with ice cream. Again, delicious! We will be back here again.
Overall, we had an amazing experience over the three days. There are so many places that we will revisit. Three days gives you a taste of what’s out there, opens your eyes to new places, and feeds your exploring soul, but you can do it at your own pace, once a week, over the course of the summer, whenever it takes your fancy. It was great being out and about with my mother and getting to spend time together doing fun things
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