Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 16 September 2013

Postcard From Ireland


For once we managed to get abroad for our main holiday this year, by taking a cottage for 2 weeks in Ireland - in County Wicklow (just 30 miles or so south of Dublin) to be precise. It's always interesting to visit a country with a shared heritage to your own, to gain a different perspective on common history and to experience subtle differences in a familiar way of life.

Our last minute destination was akin to choosing somewhere with a hatpin - what was available in early September which looked interesting. I did no research whatsoever (unusual!) and I had no idea until we arrived that Wicklow calls itself the 'Garden of Ireland'. We could have visited a different garden every day and still have enough left over to fill 2 weeks more - and then some. I had to ration myself to just a few as it was NAH's holiday too.

We were lucky with the weather, which is just as well as County Wicklow is very much an outdoors kind of place. We were just a couple of miles away from the sea, and the Wicklow Mountains - with its national park and long distance footpath (The Wicklow Way) - were only a few miles further inland.

The picture at the top of this post is of Glendalough, one of our unexpected and welcome discoveries. This is a place of Catholic pilgrimage as this quiet glen in the mountains was home to Saint Kevin and the resultant Monastic City founded in the 6th century. The hobbit-like round towers you can see in the distance are part of what remains - a reminder of the defences needed to fend off Viking invaders in the 9th century. The other remains in the area can be as recent as the 11th and 12th centuries. Non-Catholics like us were still able to appreciate the quiet beauty of the place and to take a delightful 3 mile walk through the ruins and around 2 lakes in the heart of the mountains.

Our 2 weeks took us from the green of high summer into the golds and russets of early autumn. The swallows departed for their winter home in Africa half way through our stay, signalling the start of the changes in the landscape around us. It was great to have the time to pause and for once really notice the evolving changes in the season.

I'll be back soon with more travellers' tales - of both planned visits and unexpected discoveries - over the next few weeks :)

14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Yes! I have a cousin called Kevin too ;)

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  2. A lovely country to visit VP. Glad that the weather held good and that you had time to pause. Have fond memories of a touring holiday in Wicklow and Wexford not long after we were married. Hope to return one day. Enjoyed some memorable garden visits including Mount Usher and Butterstream although I think that the latter is no longer open. Lots of good food too. Look forward to hearing more about your travels.

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    1. Hi Anna - I was thinking of you on holiday and how the place would be ideal for you, himself and your motorhome. We were just a couple of miles from Mount Usher, so there's more on that to come :) Butterstream wasn't on the garden visit leaflet, so it looks like you're correct in your thinking.

      Food-wise - you need a mortgage to dine out, so I'd recommend self catering and the occasional treat, perhaps one of the courses at Ballyknocken cookery school or the cooking of Avoca, which is available at both Mount Usher and Powescourt.

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  3. Yes, it was Kevin that made me want to comment too. The Kevin I knew at primary school was definitely not saintly! Sounds a lovely trip. I'm green with envy at your having had a whole TWO weeks away. Looking forward to hearing more.

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    1. Thanks Helen, more posts soon :)

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  4. It looks and sounds like you had a most enjoyable holiday. Flighty xx

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  5. I love this! Look forward to seeing more postcards!!

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    1. I have so much to write about Linda, they'll be very big postcards ;)

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  6. That is a lovely part of the world, we were there many years ago, unfortunately when the sad news about 9/11 came through. The scenery is beautiful and the people so friendly, we must go back again some time, so glad you had a nice time there.

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    1. The scenery and people are still the same Pauline, so I hope your return is during happier times :)

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  7. I love Ireland...the whole country is one big garden!

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  8. You're correct Donna - Cocosmia seemed to be the national plant whilst I was there!

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