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The Powerscourt Blog

Aoife O'Driscoll

Recent Posts

Winter & Christmas Floral Design Demonstrations

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 13, 2017 3:29:43 PM

Ever wondered how to create a show-stopping Christmas centrepiece for the dining table or a beautiful festive wreath?

Join some of the brightest stars in the Irish floral industry at Powerscourt Garden Pavilion in North County Wicklow, where they will demonstrate a selection of festive floral pieces to inspire you to make your own at home. The demonstrations take place on November 15th, 23rd and 29th at 11am in Powerscourt Estate’s Garden Pavilion, located in Enniskerry just minutes from South County Dublin.

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Our floral designers’ easy step by step designs and top tips will get you one step ahead with your Christmas preparations. Using the finest foliages, flowers and berries along with pine cones and cinnamon, you will learn how to add a little extra Christmas magic to your home.

The workshops will feature one of Ireland’s emerging young talents, Harumi Langford whose Japanese influenced contemporary style has won her many admirers. Brenda Joyce from the Association of Floral Artists will create warming wreaths, gorgeous garlands and traditional table pieces. Lastly, Janette O’Rourke, owner of Kay’s Flower School will be sharing her 30 years’ experience in the industry with easy to copy designs for your home.

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So come along and create something bright and beautiful for your home this Christmas. Tickets are €5 including refreshments.

They are available for purchase online from www.powerscourtgardenpavilion.com/events.

There will be a raffle of the items created at the demonstration. All proceeds from the raffle will go towards the Wicklow Hospice Foundation.

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Topics: Powerscourt Garden Pavilion, Events

Launch of the book ‘Powerscourt Golf Club – Celebrating 20 Years’

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 13, 2017 1:08:59 PM

The members and friends of Powerscourt Golf Club recently gathered to mark the publication of a book celebrating the club’s 20 years of success and to toast its next 20 years. MC on the day was television & radio presenter Craig Doyle, a Powerscourt member.

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A portrait of the Late Dr. Michael Slazenger, Chairman and Chief Executive of Powerscourt Estate, who oversaw the development of the 2 golf courses at Powerscourt.

Powerscourt Golf Club is in one magnificent setting in beautiful County Wicklow with two championship golf courses. The book tells more of its story.

The book is dedicated to the late Dr Michael Slazenger, Chairman and Chief Executive of Powerscourt Estate, who oversaw the development of the 2 golf courses at Powerscourt.

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Sarah Slazenger – Managing Director of Powerscourt Estate is presented with copy of the 20th Anniversary Book by past Lady Captain Brenda Quinlan.

His vision, in its brilliance, and his venture, in its boldness, has produced a timeless legacy. This legacy and inheritance has been carefully nurtured by many people for more than 20 years.

The book is a celebration of members, past and present. It is also a celebration of a community and the strong links forged with other communities.

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Fellow PGA Golf Professional Paul Thompson and Jacqui Farrell are presented with a copy of the Powerscourt Golf Club 20th Anniversary Book by Golf Club Manager Gavin Hunt. This is to celebrate their own 20 years at Powerscourt Golf Club, since its opening in 2006.

The book is big in ambition with more than 240 pages, more than 900 photographs, provided by almost 100 contributors. It is full of intimate insights on the Club’s key developments shared by the owners and management. Also, all the Captains and a great number of members offered their own delightful personal anecdotes and stories.

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President Joe Duignan receives a copy of the Powerscourt Golf Club 20th Anniversary Book from John Power – Chairman of the Book Committee.

These stories are worth telling, as much as they are well told. Copies of the book are available at Powerscourt Golf Club.

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2017 Captains Paddy Boyle & Christine O’Neill make a presentation to 20th Anniversary Captains Aidan Daly & Aedamar Dunne.

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Tom Clarke, Director of Powerscourt Estate and retired former General Manager is presented with a copy of the 20th Anniversary Book by Fellow PGA Golf Professional Paul Thompson. Tom has been involved with Powerscourt Estate for the past 56 years. 

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20th Anniversary Lady Captain Aedamar Dunne receives the Powerscourt Golf Club 20th Anniversary Book from 2017 Lady Captain Christine O’Neill.

 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Golf Club

Powerscourt River Walk in the autumn

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 25, 2017 2:26:21 PM

Most Saturday mornings you will find me in my favourite place, the River Walk at Powerscourt Estate, which nestles at the edge of the Wicklow Mountains. With my nosey greyhound Lola and my daughter Molly we unwind in this idyllic, hidden, gated pathway wandering through sublime forest next to the meandering river.

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The River Walk is an exclusive benefit for Powerscourt Annual Membership holders and guests of the 5 Star Powerscourt Hotel. It feels like an extra special place, a wonder to behold, where everyone appreciates being part of the secret.

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It is a haven for dog lovers and those that appreciate nature, most especially trees. You come away feeling replenished from the healing qualities of these ancient and gentle giants that watch over the people and dogs on their simple walks. It is even home to the tallest tree in Ireland, a Douglas Fir.

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The walk itself is about 3kms but it is impossible to not break away from the winding pathways and wander down by the Dargle River or lose yourself in the forest trails.

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It is often used for filming due to its unspoilt nature and seclusion. One day I found Vikings filming for the hugely popular hit TV series. The next time I returned there was not a trace, only the memory of a huge film crew and cast, staging a battle in the forest.

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However the real stars of the River Walk are the trees. The swaying and towering conifers watch majestically as you wander by. The wise Douglas-Firs, Corsican Pines, Giant Redwoods, Atlantic Cedars and Noble Firs envelope every part of the walk and create an ambiance of peace and tranquillity.

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I feel so very lucky to have this magical walk available all week long and to share it with like minded people and of course our favourite hounds.

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Find out more about becoming an annual member of Powerscourt so you too can enjoy the beauty of the River Walk. Individual, couple and family membership options available.

Kerry Gordon lives by the sea in Co. Wicklow with her daughter Molly and greyhound Lola. She is a long term blogger for Powerscourt Estate and Gardens and enjoys nothing more than visiting Powerscourt Waterfall, strolling around Powerscourt Gardens, followed by a tasty scone and pot of tea at Avoca in the main house. She is found most weekends at the River Walk with Lola, smiling. Kerry can be contacted @kerrymgordon on twitter.
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Topics: Powerscourt River Walk, Wicklow

Ho Ho Ho Santa is coming to Powerscourt House!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 2, 2017 10:19:28 AM

We hope you’ve been good this year, because the Big Guy is coming back. From the 25th November to the 23rd December inclusive, Mr Claus himself (and his elves too) will be at Avoca in Powerscourt House, Enniskerry County Wicklow awaiting your visit.

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While the adults relax with a coffee or snack in the Terrace Café, the little ones will be enchanted to meet Santa and his elves - even Santa’s animals will be there at the stables in Powerscourt Garden Pavilion. From deer, miniature donkeys and pygmy goats to rabbits and guinea pigs, children and adults alike will enjoy a visit to the stables, free of charge.

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Of course, as well as Santa, there’s fabulous gift shopping, delicious food and free parking, plus the beautiful Powerscourt Gardens where you can finish off your visit with a crisp winter walk. All Santa bookings come with an exclusive offer of a promotional Family Ticket price to the Powerscourt Gardens.

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Tickets cost €10 and are non-refundabe. They can be booked online from Monday 9th October. Make sure you’re signed up to our mailing list on our home-page to get alerts!

Santa tickets may only be purchased online from the Avoca website via this link from October 9th. All sales are final.

Once transaction complete, no refunds, cancellations or exchanges will be accepted.

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Garden Pavilion, Events, Powerscourt House, Santa

Win €250 worth of autumn plants!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Sep 19, 2017 3:48:31 PM

Be in with a chance to win some stylish autumn and winter plants to adorn your front door, patio, back garden or garden landscaping. We have €250 worth of plants to give away to one lucky winner!!

ENTER COMPETITION

Whether you are looking for an instant burst of colour, an elegant look, a sunny, tropical style, a warm welcome or a natural, woodland style our horticulturalists will give you a personalised shopping experience to help you select what will best suit your garden.

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Enter our competition and choose from fabulous berried Plants and different textured blooms and foliage. Get your winter garden looking chic and cheerful with Powerscourt Garden Pavilion!

ENTER COMPETITION

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Topics: Competitions, Powerscourt Garden Pavilion, Gardening

Powerful Powerscourt celebrates record visitor numbers

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 28, 2017 10:15:00 AM

Powerscourt Estate is celebrating record visitor numbers in 2016 as 467,000 guests visited Powerscourt Gardens and Waterfall over the past 12 months. This represents a +14% increase on 2016 visitor numbers and confirms Powerscourt Estate’s place as the most visited paid tourist attraction in County Wicklow. 271,000 people visited Powerscourt Gardens in 2016, up +9% over the previous year, while visitors to Powerscourt Waterfall were up by +21% at 195,000.

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These strong results place Powerscourt Estate as the 9th most popular tourism destination in Ireland according to Failte Ireland’s recent list of the best performing tourist attractions. The Guinness Storehouse and the Cliffs of Moher are the top 2 tourism attractions in the country.

Visitors from Ireland to Powerscourt Gardens were up by +34% while visitors from China grew by 47%, making them the third-most important market in terms of visitors to the gardens.

Powerscourt is a popular location for TV series and films. Productions shot on the estate over the past year include the historical drama ‘Vikings’ and BBC spin-off, ‘Kat & Alfie: Redwater.’ Travel and lifestyle programmes recently filmed at Powerscourt include “Destination: The Emerald Isle” which aired in the USA on ABC live to 3 million people in February and BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo which enjoyed 1.8 million viewers. Publicity opportunities such as these help raise awareness of County Wicklow as a tourism destination and bring more tourism business to the surrounding areas.

Celebrating the record number of visitors achieved, Sarah Slazenger, Managing Director of Powerscourt Estate commented: "2016 confirmed that Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall continue to be among the must-see visitor attractions in Ireland. With exciting new businesses in the pipeline including Powerscourt Distillery and the Cool Plant Experience, the estate’s offering and appeal continues to grow each year.”

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Waterfall

Magical Theatre in the Magical Surroundings of Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 7, 2017 9:55:43 AM

 

Join Chapterhouse Theatre Company in the magical surroundings of Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow as they present Peter Pan in one of Ireland’s most stunning open-air venues. Enjoy an afternoon in Neverland on 25th of June at 1.30pm as J.M.Barrie’s timeless classic is brought to life in a brand new adaptation by award winning writer Laura Turner, with beautifully designed costumes, music and songs.

 

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Little ones will enjoy experiencing Wendy, Michael and John Darling on their adventures with Peter on the far away on the magical island of Neverland. There they encounter the enchanting mermaids, magical fairies and the cruelest pirate of them all, Captain Hook.

 

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Performed in Powerscourt’s period Walled Gardens this promises to be one of the most splendid afternoons of the open-air theatre season. Bring along a picnic and soak up the views while you relax in one of Ireland’s most beautiful gardens. Ticket prices are from €16.00 and include entry to Powerscourt Gardens. To book visit www.powerscourt.com/events.

Presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd.

 

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Topics: Events

Delicious recipe for Irish brown bread from Avoca Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 20, 2017 9:33:55 AM

Looking for a tasty new recipe to try this weekend! Look no further!

Here's the recipe for Avoca's famous brown bread recipe. Enjoy :)

Ingredients

200g white flour

300g coarse brown flour

100g mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, sesame, linseed, pumpkin), keep back 10g to sprinkle on top of bread

3tbsp of bran

2tbsp of wheatgerm

2 heaped tsp baking powder

1 level tsp salt

1dstsp treacle

600 – 900ml milk

Makes 1 loaf

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Instructions

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the treacle and stir in enough of the milk to give a moist but not sloppy mixture.

Place in a well oiled 900g loaf tin and bake in a oven preheated to 200°c/400°F/gas mark 6 for 20 mins until risen.

Reduce the heat to 170°c/325°F/gas mark 3 and bake for a further hour.

Run a knife around the tin and ease the bread out. If it sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom it is cooked, if not, return it to the over for 10-15 mins. Don’t worry about putting the bread back in the tin for this, just turn it upside down and put it directly on the shelf.

For more great recipe ideas see the Avoca website 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate

Powerscourt boss is brimming with ideas - Sunday Times Article

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 6, 2017 9:46:59 AM

Sarah Slazenger, the managing director of the picturesque estate in Enniskerry, will build on the success of her family business with a €10m whiskey distillery

Article by Gavin Daly - The article appeared in the Sunday Times on 27 September 2015.

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Slazenger has had more than her share of misfortune at Powerscourt — but she has ‘the best job in the world’ (Fergal Phillips)

As a child, Sarah Slazenger grabbed every opportunity to visit her grandparents at Powerscourt, their 1,000-acre estate outside Enniskerry in Co Wicklow. She was staying one night in 1982, aged 15, when an armed gang barged into their house, knocked her grandfather to the ground and put a gun to his head.

“There were half a dozen of them in balaclavas, coming in and out,” says Slazenger. “It was very, very frightening.”

In the mayhem, her grandmother Gwen convinced the robbers that she needed to go upstairs. Halfway up, she faked breathlessness, sat down on a window seat and pressed a hidden panic button. “That rang an alarm in the farm manager’s house and he called the head gardener,” says Slazenger. “When the lights of their car appeared, the raiders couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

The gang rushed out to investigate, giving Gwen time to hop up and lock the door. “She was an extraordinary, feisty person,” says Slazenger, smiling.

Her grandmother was on the phone, summoning help, as the raiders smashed the door in. “They pulled the phone out of the wall, and scarpered,” she says. The gang escaped empty-handed but the experience caused Slazenger’s grand- parents to quit Powerscourt for “a quieter life” in the Isle of Man. The trauma didn’t put her off the place, however.

Slazenger has worked at Powerscourt since 1990 and now runs an unusual family business including a Palladian mansion, ornamental gardens, two golf courses, an Avoca cafe, garden centre and upmarket shopping. The next addition, announced last week, will be a €10m whiskey distillery in an old mill house. There were several approaches about possible uses for the mill in the past, says Slazenger, pointing out a fine stone building on a walk around the estate. The whiskey proposal, from local businessmen Gerry Ginty and Ashley Gardiner, just clicked.

“I knew nothing about whiskey at all but the more we looked at it, the more we thought, there’s something in this,” says Slazenger. At full production, Powerscourt Distillery will turn out a million bottles a year, targeting the premium end of the Irish whiskey market, which is booming.

The planned distillery visitor centre shouldn’t have the “build it and they will come” worries of other distillery ventures. About 500,000 people already visit Powerscourt each year, mainly for the 47-acre gardens and the 400ft waterfall, which is on Slazenger land.

Slazenger takes a shortcut through the estate farmyard and into the walled garden, where an overhaul of original glasshouses is being completed. Tourists mill around the main Italian Gardens, created in the 1840s by Daniel Robertson, a gout-sufferer who was ferried around in a wheelbarrow as he drank bottles of sherry.

Latest accounts for Powerscourt Estates show accumulated profits of €17.7m at the end of 2013 and nearly €8m cash in the bank. It paid a €1m dividend to its parent.

“There are huge outgoings,” says Slazenger. Recapping the walls of the walled gardens was a two-year project that “most people don’t see”, and there is a plan to repaint and regild all the estate’s gates.

There will be a new interpretive experience for visitors, tying in with Failte Ireland’s new Ireland’s Ancient East concept. Longer term, there is a climate-change venture she can’t talk about yet.

Slazenger has a three-strand business philosophy: “To be inquiring, to be demanding, to be generous.” She adds “A good idea has to give way to a better idea.”

New ventures are Slazenger’s favourite part of her job, though many proposals are ditched before they even reach the family-run board of directors. They include a theme park (“though they make quite a lot of money”), a railway from the main estate to the waterfall, and a pet farm.

“You have to be quite hard-nosed,” says Slazenger. “We have to ensure it doesn’t damage the Powerscourt brand, which is one of timelessness, elegance and quality.”

Slazenger should be familiar with the power of brands. Her great-grandfather Albert started the Slazenger sports equipment company and invented the modern tennis ball, still used at Wimbledon.

Her grandfather Ralph was an engineer and inventor, and Gwen had a passion for farming. They came to Ireland in the 1950s, living initially at Durrow Abbey in Co Offaly, and knew the Wingfield family, who had owned Powerscourt for centuries.

When the Wingfields could no longer afford to keep the estate and decided to sell in 1961, the Slazengers snapped it up — though not for its obvious attractions. “My grandfather was fascinated by renewable energy and he wanted the waterfall for hydroelectricity,” says Slazenger.

Gwen farmed the estate and the family lived in the mansion, built around an original Norman keep. Slazenger and her siblings, who lived with their doctor parents in Ballsbridge, visited regularly and had the run of the place. “It was magical.”

She remembers massive Christmas trees and carollers in the main hall in the winter. A ball at Powerscourt in the summer of 1965 was attended by Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

In November 1974, on the night of a press reception to show off improvements to the house, a blaze was lit in an old fireplace, causing a chimney fire that gutted the house. “You were standing [on the ground floor] looking up at the sky,” she says.

Her grandparents moved to the east wing, which was undamaged by the fire, until the attempted robbery in 1982. The gardens and farm stayed open after their move, but it was a struggle.

“The gardens and farming were at the mercy of the weather. And it was the 1980s, when everything was pretty down.”

When Gwen died in 1990, Slazenger’s father, an anaesthetist, convened his siblings and said he would take a year’s sabbatical to work on the estate. “Up to that point, he never intended to have anything to do with the estate,” says Slazenger. She remembers getting the call in Scotland, where she was based, to see if she would get involved. “I was on the plane home straight away,” she says. “It was only meant to be for a year. There was no grand plan, no assumption it could all work out.”

The first step was securing overarching planning permission to develop the estate. Then they cherry-picked the best parts of the plan. Her father did go back to public hospital work but parked his private practice to focus on Powerscourt. Fixing up the house was the “big driving motivation”.

A disused gravel pit beside the Powerscourt entrance was sold as sites for houses, becoming the upmarket Eagle Valley estate, where houses sell for millions. The funds paid for a reroofing of the house, completed in 1996 using a metal structure that supported the original walls.

The first golf course opened that same year, funded with the sale of member shares in the club. It “just took off”, says Slazenger, and has 900 members. Some land was sold to the Office of Public Works but no other land sales or housing development took place. A 3km riverwalk was developed, passing the tallest tree in Ireland, a 200ft tall Douglas fir.

Avoca opened in 1997, and a restaurant fills the old dining room where the viscounts Powerscourt would have sat, overlooking the gardens. Above the ground floor, though, there were just concrete floors “to stop the walls from waving”.

The restoration of the first-floor ballroom, with intricate plasterwork and detailed ceilings, was Slazenger’s “absolute favourite time”. It hosts weddings, balls and corporate events. The top floor of the house is now office space used by Crowley Carbon, a greentech company. “They have the best view in Ireland.”

A hotel was in the plans from the early 1990s, though an early idea to turn the original house into a five-star hotel was knocked on the head. “It would have meant cutting off the gardens from the public, and that was not what we wanted.”

Instead, a €250m 200-bedroom hotel was built by Treasury Holdings in a hollow off the main avenue and opened in 2007 as a Ritz-Carlton. It rebranded as Powerscourt hotel after being bought out of insolvency by investment group Tetrarch Capital in 2013. The hotel owners have a long lease from the Slazengers and they work closely, particularly on access to the gardens and golf courses. “When the hotel does well, we do well,” she says. It has just been named AA hotel of the year, while the gardens have been rated third in the world by National Geographic — the gardens at Versailles were top, while Kew was No 2.

Including the hotel, more than 350 people work on the estate, up from fewer than 20 in 1990, says Slazenger. There are visiting projects, such as the filming of TV drama Penny Dreadful on the estate last week. “It is sustainable in the long term. We’re not worrying about having a good year this year and a bad year next year.”

The distillery, which was first pitched about a year ago, fits that bill, she says. “The estate has been here 800 years. It’s an intergenerational business, and the whiskey business is the same.”

Powerscourt has been the setting for Slazenger’s best days and her worst. In April 2010, her father and a friend of his were killed when his small plane crashed on the estate. Slazenger pauses.

“I am tremendously privileged. I got to spend 20 years working with him. He was a visionary, and a hard act to follow.”

Her mother still lives up by the waterfall. “We have been unlucky in a lot of ways but we are also tremendously fortunate,” she says. “I pinch myself — I really think I have the best job in the world.”

The life of Sarah Slazenger

Age: 48

Home: Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Family: Married with three children

Education: Schooling in England and at Wesley College, Dublin. Degree in economics and politics from University College Dublin, and a marketing degree from the Marketing Institute of Ireland.

Favourite book: My current favourite is The Undertaking by local author Audrey Magee.

Favourite film: About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson. It has a very upbeat message. 

Working day

I work roughly office hours. The estate office is where it all happens. My days are hugely varied because we have the various businesses on the estate, whether it’s the golf club or hotel or the retailers. Then we might have a film crew or special activity on the estate. I start the day with meetings with the leaders of the various businesses. A good part of my day is spent looking at new ideas and developments — running Powerscourt is all about innovation and not standing still. It’s also seasonal and every season is different; at the minute we’re thinking about Christmas and getting the donkeys, goats and deer in for the Powerscourt Christmas stables. At weekends, I share an on-call with the estate manager.

Downtime

My downtime is family time. My sport is horse riding. I ride out on the estate early in the mornings — the sunrise can be glorious. I compete in eventing at weekends.

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate

Down by the river at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 22, 2016 1:09:24 PM

And the sun took a step back,
The leaves lulled themselves to sleep,
and Autumn was awakened.

Raquel Franco

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The River Walk was laid in 1868 by the Viscount of Powerscourt so that his family could enjoy the serenity of the River Dargle.

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And serene it is indeed. Over 3 kilometres (2 miles), it winds its way in the direction of the Powerscourt Waterfall, through secluded woodlands and past champion trees. The mirror-like surface of the peaty water glistens through the leaves, and its tranquil murmur echoes softly in the undergrowth. Every once in a while, a lonely autumn leaf sails gently downstream.

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As we started walking, my children collected a number of seasonal treasures – parachute seeds, shiny conkers in their soft shell, one green acorn with its cap still on, one large flat mushroom, and two star-shaped leaves decayed into the most delicate lace (only the ribs and veins remained).

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On that lovely Sunday afternoon, the surfaced pathway was busy with dog walkers and families, and a few cars. The adventure really began when the kids took their hide-and-seek game off the main road and into the woods.

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They hid among the exposed roots of broad-leaf trees on the river bank;
They scaled low-lying branches and giant cork-like conifers;
They painted their faces with charcoal taken out of the charred hollow of a tall tree;
They ran, they played, they laughed.

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Deep in the woods, they also spotted a stick swing hanging tantalisingly over the Dargle – a return visit will be in order to try it out, with adequate footwear, or no footwear at all!

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About

Annette is a blogger exploring Ireland’s great outdoors with four children and a camera. She is French, married to an Irish man, and they live in beautiful county Wicklow.

http://www.fouracorns.ie

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Wicklow