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The Powerscourt Blog

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

Foraging Fun along the Powerscourt River Walk

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 3, 2016 3:29:36 PM

 

 

I didn’t really know what I had signed up for when I accepted the invitation to come along to the 'Foraging in the Wild Walk', a couple of weeks ago. In my usual, slapdash manner I signed myself, my husband and three children ranging in ages from four to nine up for what I thought would be a guided stroll along the lovely River Walk at Powerscourt.

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So it was quite a surprise to myself and my family when we realised that Mary and Robert from Blackstairs Eco Trails were bringing us out on a foraging jaunt! Whilst I was trying to nonchalantly shush the complaints from my seven year old that he was not actually going on a walk, my eldest started munching on dandelion leaves while exploring where the wild strawberries grow!

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Next thing the 'complainer' was chowing down on some hogweed seeds, fascinated, as Robert showed us how to grab handfuls of nettles without stinging ourselves..and like that Mary and Robert had us under their spell.

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                                                                         Robert White

They were so enthusiastic, bantering between themselves and leaping from one indistinct shrub to another, handing out hazelnuts, wild mushrooms and fun along the way. Once we had finished exploring the endless possibilities from deep-fried elderberry flowers to plaintain on toast, we were whisked back to Powerscourt Garden Pavillion for an informative session on home pickling, alexander seed (used as black pepper by the more inventive chef) and wild sorrel which tastes more ‘lemony’ than lemons!!

Forage Ireland                                                                             Mary White

Their enthusiasm for foraging and living off the plentiful land around us was so infectious that by the time we were leaving I was pretty sure I would never need to darken another supermarket or doctor’s door again, although my self-belief may have been enhanced by the delicious swig of their homemade sloe gin I had helped myself to.

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Reality has set back in now but with another fabulous trip to Powerscourt under my belt and with my new found foraging knowledge, I did spot a hazel tree and some wild hazelnuts on my daily walk which the children were only delighted to gobble up!

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Aisling posts about our family events throughout the year. Aisling runs a parenting blog which you can follow here.

Bio: My name is Aisling Lyons, stay at home mother of three, and sometime radio pundit ;).I have over 20 years experience in the childcare sector, starting out as nursery nurse before moving into nannying, and then returning to work in creches for over 14 years, twelve of which were in creche management. I managed a private creche "Johnstown Kiddiecare" in Kilpeddar, Co. Wicklow, and then moved into Dublin to manage the nursery on-site in Trinity College Dublin. I finally left that position to open my own creche "Aisling Childcare", which I ran for seven years. I closed the creche when baby number three was imminent as I really wanted to focus on motherhood. I am passionate about children being given the very best opportunities to allow them to grow up to be happy and confident. I set up a blog to help any parents struggling with the little and large problems that parenting young children can bring! I really hope that some ideas I bring will help families thrive and forge ahead!: )

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Events

Meet Lord Powerscourt and Sarah and Alex Slazenger in our new short movie!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Sep 22, 2016 2:20:19 PM

Beautiful Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow has launched a wonderful new short film and new audio guides about the gardens, narrated personally by the 2 families and owners of Powerscourt over the past 400 years. Voted the third most beautiful garden in the world by National Geographic, Powerscourt is a classical oasis hidden in the wilds of Wicklow.

In the film you will meet Anthony Wingfield, Lord Powerscourt and Alex Slazenger, the Head Gardener. Their cousin Sarah Slazenger, Managing Director also appears on the video making this a first-hand, warm experience of what Powerscourt means to them. From fascinating family characters through to everyday tasks in the gardens, the audio guides provide a wonderful behind the scenes glimpse of life at Powerscourt.

The audio guides are available now in English, Spanish, German, French & Chinese.

So how did the impressive Powerscourt Mansion come to be built?

And just who had the vision to create the spectacular gardens?

Join Sarah, Alex and Anthony as they share family stories with you that have been passed down for generations.

Start your Powerscourt journey today by watching the short video below and enjoy the audio guides when you next visit Powerscourt Gardens.

 

 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Gardening, Wicklow

Four Wheeled Wonders at Powerscourt Gardens

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Aug 2, 2016 3:45:57 PM

Step back in time and admire various vintage vehicles at Powerscourt, part of Ireland’s ancient east. The Irish Veteran and Vintage Car Club is back for its 39th year at Powerscourt to celebrate the most beautiful period cars in Ireland and share their members’ collections with you. Everyone is welcome to come along and enjoy the display in the historic setting of Powerscourt’s walled gardens on the 1,000 acre estate in County Wicklow on Sunday 21st of August from 2 to 4.30pm. Vehicles of all eras and styles will be in attendance, alongside their owners, who are always delighted to tell visitors about their beloved classics.

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FIVA, the international federation of historic vehicles, has named 2016 as World Motoring Heritage Year – both in recognition of motoring history, and to celebrate a new dawn for the historic vehicle movement throughout the world. There will be over 125 historic vehicles covering a vast array of motoring history at the event in Powerscourt.

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Everyone is welcome to come dressed to impress in their best vintage clothes! The event costs €25 for a family of 5 and includes entry to Powerscourt Gardens. For tickets and more information visit www.powerscourt.com/events

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Events, Wicklow

Inspiration for Gardeners along Ireland’s longest herbaceous border

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 27, 2016 4:56:49 PM

When visiting the gardens of the great houses of Ireland you will often stumble across magnificent, colourful plants climbing their classical walls, waiting to be admired. This summer, be inspired by Ireland’s longest herbaceous border in the third best garden in the world at Powerscourt Gardens (National Geographic). The original selection of plants and shrubs along the herbaceous border were chosen by Lady Powerscourt, the wife of the 7th Lord Powerscourt. Her husband once said “The planting of the choice plants and shrubs, and seeing them increase year by year in size and beauty has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.”

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Join the horticulturalists of Powerscourt Garden Pavilion who will be giving a free talk to help you create a miniature version of their famous herbaceous border in your own garden at home. Popular from the Victorian era onwards, herbaceous plants were carefully chosen and arranged, not for their rarity, but for the beautiful sight they created when placed together. Get ideas from the Powerscourt team about which herbaceous plants to grow together, conditions, plant care and climate, and unusual annuals and specimens to try.  The talk takes place on 12th of July at 11am in Powerscourt Garden Pavilion.

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Now that you have the know-how come back and join Head Gardener Alex Slazenger for a lovely morning exploring the herbaceous border at Powerscourt Gardens on the 15th of July at 11am. Featuring over 700 varieties of plants and shrubs, this spectacular border boasts an amazing array of foliage at varying heights during the summer months. Alex will give visitors behind the scenes advice on how he creates this display each year and how to produce a well-stocked border. Tickets to Powerscourt Gardens must be bought for the tour which is free for annual members of Powerscourt. For more information and to book tickets, visit the Powerscourt Estate website www.powerscourt.com/events

About Powerscourt Gardens: Set in the wild Wicklow countrywide in Ireland, overlooking the Sugarloaf Mountain, Powerscourt enjoys a breath-taking panorama. The Gardens stretch over 47 acres and offer visitors a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes, secret hollows and rambling walks. www.powerscourt.com

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Events, Gardening

Spread your wings at FairyLAND in Powerscourt Gardens!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 27, 2016 2:49:16 PM

If you are looking for a magical day out with your family this weekend, join the Imaginosity team and their enchanted realm of fairies at Powerscourt Gardens in beautiful County Wicklow. Creating an enchanted atmosphere, this event will be filled with fairy dust, magical pathways, fairy games and activities. Children will follow a secret fairy trail, find hidden messages, experience the magic of the woodlands and meet and greet real live fairies! Dress up is encouraged for all magical folk who attend, including mammies and daddies!

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The event takes place on the 10th of July from 12.30pm onwards and is suitable for children aged 3-10. Included in the ticket price is entry to the beautiful Powerscourt Gardens. With over 47 acres to explore, children will love playing and walking along the winding pathways and rambling walks of Powerscourt. Advance booking is essential; you can book online through the Powerscourt Website: www.powerscourt.com/events.

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Events, Wicklow

The most scenic yoga class you’ll ever take at Powerscourt Gardens

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 27, 2016 12:54:38 PM

If you’re the kind of person who loves getting outside, taking in the fresh air and blue skies around you and don't mind getting a bit of grass on your mat, outdoor yoga may be for you!

Reap the benefits of practicing yoga outdoors in a beautiful setting and head to Powerscourt Gardens where teacher Eike Treanor will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated with a weekly class which runs from July 9th to 30th each Saturday at 11am.

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Rebalance and restore your body with this Vinyasa based class under the sky in Powerscourt’s Walled Gardens. Vinyasa yoga links breath to movement and builds endurance, flexibility and concentration. The class is suitable for all levels, both for beginners and those with experience. Open your senses and get closer to nature as you relax in the fresh air and natural light.

Teacher Eike has been studying yoga for over fifteen years and teaching for over ten years. Eike brings her unique style to each class and will bring you closer to your yoga goal. Book your place now on www.powerscourt.com/events and find inner peace in the great outdoors.

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Events, Wicklow

Powerscourt features in 2016 European Championship Football Video!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 15, 2016 11:07:13 AM

What a start to the European 2016 Championship on Monday! Following a superb goal from Ireland, we are off to a great start in the tournament. We are all looking forward to the matches with Belgium and Italy here at Powerscourt.

Tourism Ireland has put together an amazing video of our boys in green playing football at some of the most iconic locations in Ireland, including Powerscourt!

 


We hope you enjoy it and that it brings a little bit of Ireland and football magic to you, wherever in the world you are watching :) Best of luck to all the countries taking part in this year's Euro games.

 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Wicklow