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The Powerscourt Blog

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

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 River Walk, Wicklow, Powerscourt Estate

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!!

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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: Events, Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk

Conifers at Powerscourt Estate

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 16, 2015 11:24:33 AM

 

From the 200 year old beech trees along the avenue at Powerscourt, to the Monkey Puzzle trees that were among the first of their kind to be planted in Ireland, the trees at Powerscourt are special. Learn more about conifers at Powerscourt in our article and drop by the gardens soon to see them in person!

Conifers

Conifers have narrow leaves, which can be needle-like or scaly. Their seeds usually develop inside protective woody cones and most trees are evergreen.

Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis)

Native to western North America, Sitka spruce was introduced into Ireland in the 1830’s. Fast growing and well suited for our climate, today it is our most versatile and commonly planted forest tree. The wood from Sitka spruce is known as ‘white deal’ and is widely used as a building and fencing material.

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Tree trivia

The first successful powered airplane, the Wright brothers’ Flyer, was built using Sitka spruce.

Larch (Larix decidua)

Larch is the only deciduous conifer in Ireland, and was brought here about 350 years ago. Its soft, bright green needles turn an attractive yellow before they fall in the late autumn, leaving the tree bare for winter.

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Tree trivia

The rot-resistant, reddish-brown heartwood of larch is flexible, durable and attractive, making it a popular choice for yacht building.  

Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

This tall native conifer was known as one of the ‘nobles of the wood’ in medieval Irish culture, and was highly prized for its resin. To this day it is still valued for its many commercial applications. The pale red wood, known as ‘red deal’, is light and strong and ideal for making doors, floors, decking and paper.

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Tree trivia

The needles can be boiled in water to produce an aromatic tea which is helpful in the treatment of bronchial conditions.

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Topics: Powerscourt River Walk, Powerscourt Gardens, Wicklow

Wilds of Wicklow Foraging Walk

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Aug 9, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Wilds of Wicklow Foraging Walk

It's nearly harvest time! Would you like to discover the art of foraging wild and edible foods such as wild flowers, herbs, walnuts, berries, mushrooms and garlic? Join Niall O’Sullivan and Paul Quinn from Nádúr Collective for a guided foraging walk along Powerscourt River Walk on 14th September at 11am and again at 2pm. Usually reserved exclusively for Powerscourt annual members, the river walk offers natural, unspoilt beauty and this is a great opportunity for members of the public to visit this tranquil, hidden gem.

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During this educational two hour walk through one of Wicklow's most unspoilt locations,  you will be shown edible food plants with practical advice on how best to use them at home or in a professional kitchen.  From cooking to preserving techniques; the Nádúr Collective will show you the best way to make use of nature's best ingredients – from your backyard to your dinner table in a unique and informative approach. 

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With over forty combined years’ experience in professional kitchens and a passion for wild foods, Nádúr Collective’s aim is to get people back in touch with food, nature and nutrition. Niall O’Sullivan is head chef of Isabel’s restaurant on Baggot Street while Paul Quinn is co-owner of the Three Q's restaurant in Greystones. To book tickets to the event visit www.powerscourt.com/events

 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Events

National Tree Week launches at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Feb 26, 2014 3:40:00 PM

The Tree Council of Ireland has selected Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow as the venue for the Launch of National Tree Week (2nd to 8th March 2014). The festivities will get underway on Sunday 2nd March at 2pm at this family-friendly event. The trees on the estate have been planted over the past two centuries and there are hundreds of varieties for you to discover.

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There is so much to look forward to at the launch of National Tree Week at Powerscourt including a giveaway of over 2,000 trees thanks to Coillte. Enjoy an opportunity to meet tree specialists, wood turners, bee-keepers and basket weavers and learn about these crafts and pastimes. Activities for children include a climbing wall, archery lessons and face-painting.

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Special events to mark National Tree Walk at Powerscourt include guided walks of the trees in the Powerscourt Gardens with Head Gardener Michael Byrne and John McLoughlin from the Tree Council. Michael Byrne will also lead a special walk to the tallest tree in Ireland, located on the Powerscourt River Walk, to mark the occasion. For dates and times of these guided walks, visit www.powerscourt.ie/events. All of the events, with the exception of the guided walks, are free of charge.

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National Tree Week is sponsored by the National Tree Council, Coillte, Airtricity and Powerscourt Estate.

We look forward to seeing you here! 

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Events, Tree Week

Meet our tallest residents - Giant redwoods at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 20, 2014 3:47:00 PM

 
Big Babies

These evergreen skyscrapers are giant redwood or sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Planted here at Powerscourt around 1870, these gigantic trees can grow to 80m and live for over 3,500 years in their native Northern California. So these trees are still youngsters!

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Adapted for wildfire

A number of features of these trees highlight how they have become adapted to dealing with the periodic wildfires which scorch their native land.

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Stand under the towering canopy and feel the redwood’s unusual soft, spongy bark. This protective bark, which can be over 30cm thick in mature trees, contains tannins which provide significant defence against wildfire.

You may be lucky enough to spot the speckled brown back of the treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), as it runs mouse-like up the trunk, searching for insects hiding in the bark. The enormous redwoods are prime real-estate for these small birds, as the spongy bark is perfect for excavating nesting sites.

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Image Credit

Careful cones

At any one time, these conifers will have thousands of oval cones attached along their branches. Can you find one lying around the base of the tree?

This cone may stay closed for over 20 years, waiting for the ideal time to release its hundreds of tiny delicate seeds. The seeds are only able to grow well in full sunlight, free from competing vegetation. Thus the cones have adapted to use the occurrence of wildfire to their advantage. As the heat rises the cones will dry out, releasing the seeds onto newly cleared, mineral-rich soil, where they can have the best chance of survival.

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Visit Powerscourt today to see these beautiful trees!
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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Powerscourt Waterfall

10 Walkways to enjoy this New Year at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 10, 2014 3:17:00 PM

 

After the indulgences of the Christmas season, and with particularly with the crazy weather we have had of late (!), there is nothing better than grabbing your coat and trainers and heading out for a walk on a crisp winter day. The glow of warm winter sun and blue skies when we are lucky, make for an incredible day out! Here at Powerscourt, we have many walks for you to enjoy year-round. Here are some ideas to get your started this January!

1. The Avenue along Powerscourt Estate: The mile-long Avenue at Powerscourt features row upon row of beech trees, some of which are 200 years old. The avenue looks incredible in the winter sun when the light falls on the pale beech trees. You will see families, couples, parents and babies in prams and joggers and runners together all enjoying this wonderful walkway. It's free of charge to visit and can be enjoyed for an early morning stroll or after work run. 

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2. Stairway through the Italian Gardens: If you want to test your fitness levels this January, here are the stairs for you! From the Terraces of the Italian Garden through to Triton Lake, this walkway through Powerscourt Gardens gives some of the most expansive views of the gardens, and indeed the Wicklow countryside and Sugarloaf Mountain beyond. Magic!

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3: A Winter's walk through Tower Valley: Tower Valley is one of the more mystical and wild parts of Powerscourt Gardens. From the great heights of it's trees to the wild flora and fauna that abound throughout this woodland, there is much to see and enjoy. It's a very relaxing walk and is a favourite with nature lovers.

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4. The Beauty of the River Walk, Powerscourt Estate: The River Walk is truly one of the hidden gems of County Wicklow. At present, just annual members of Powerscourt and hotel guests of the Powerscourt Hotel can access it so it remains unspoilt and one of the quietest parts of the Estate. Our members love to enjoy walks with their families and even their dogs here in the untamed woodland and pathways that meander along the Dargle River. It's a must see. 

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5. Rhododendron Heaven in Powerscourt Gardens: One of the quietest parts of the Gardens is the Rhododendron Walk, which is also our Head Gardener Michael Byrne's most favourite spot at Powerscourt. It is difficult to imagine without being here, how colourful and alive the Rhododendron Walk is in Spring, when you are surrounded by blooms from every angle. Even in Winter, it's a gorgeous place to walk and absorb the nature around you. Stop and take a few moments to hear the birdsong and be still and quiet as you may spot a red squirrel as we have often done at Powerscourt!

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6. The must-see Lake in Powerscourt Gardens: The walkway that surrounds Triton Lake lets you enjoy a 360 degree view of Powerscourt at it's best. From the Winged Horses that watch over the Lake, to the sounds of the fountain beyond, this is one of the most majestic parts of Powerscourt Gardens. Don't miss a visit to the boathouse, hidden to one side of Lake where you can explore Powerscourt from a different angle!

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7. Lord Londonderry's Walk, Powerscourt Gardens:This is one of my favourite spots in Powerscourt Gardens. On a sunny day, you would not believe the heat and power of the Winter Sun that can be enjoyed when resting on the stone bench. It towers over the Japanese Gardens so you get the best seat in the house in terms of a viewpoint! This beautiful bench was built in honour of Lord Londonderry, the stepfather of Lord Powerscourt as it was a favourite spot for him to visit. The area surrounding the bench is known as "Lord Londonderry's Walk."

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8. The Walled Garden, Powerscourt Gardens: The Walled Garden at Powerscourt is the place to visit if you enjoy statuary, fine gates, flowers, topiary, or all of the above! The winter bedding is now in, adding some welcome colour at this time of year. Julia's Memorial is a restful and quiet place to stop for a moment or two. Listen to the trickle of the fountain and be surprised by the statuary next to it. There are an interesting collection of characters here!

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9. A Reclaimed Garden for you to enjoy: The Japanese Garden features perennial shrubs and a wonderful range of trees at any time of year. It was made on reclaimed bogland to the south of Triton Lake and I for one, am very glad that Lord and Lady Powerscourt created this treasure in 1908! The Pagoda is a great spot to stop and watch the world go by and there are lots of trickling streams under pretty Japanese bridges too. Don't miss the Grotto which feels like part of another world - with its moss covered walls with rivers running along them in the rain, it is truly romantic!

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10. Last but not least...are the beautiful walkways along Powerscourt Waterfall. There's a trail through the Waterfall which will lead you along woodland paths, over rivers and past hundreds of different kinds of trees. When you first walk towards the Waterfall, your breath will be taken away by the sight of the giant Redwood Trees which tower above the landscape. A great place to take the kids out of the house on a nice winter's day!

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Plan Your Visit to Powerscourt today!

www.powerscourt.ie 

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Powerscourt Waterfall

2013: A year of wonderful events at Powerscourt in Wicklow!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Dec 16, 2013 12:12:00 PM

The year has passed by in a whirlwind! We had over 40 events this year at Powerscourt and hope to have even more for you to enjoy next year. From treasure hunts and guided walks to gardening workshops, bug hunts and theatre evenings we have all enjoyed this year's events so much and hope you have too. Many thanks to all of our customers and friends who attended our events, spread the word and shared their stories afterwards with great photos and blogs. It's been a great year so let's look back now and enjoy some memories :)

Our events programme kicked off in March with a visit from the Irish Ghosthunters as they investigated some paranomal activity at Powerscourt. There have been lots of spooky sightings at Powerscourt over the years and we had 60 members of the public along to experience some of them alongside the team! A trip to the Pepper Pot Tower in the pitch black of night was definitely among the scarier moments!

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National Tree Week at Powerscourt got off to a great start in early March with a guided walk of the trees in Powerscourt Gardens with Crann. It was a very cold day but 50 brave souls braved the elements and we warmed up with tea and coffee afterwards in Powerscourt House.

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Imaginosity, Dublin Children's Museum were on hand to launch 'The Gathering' at Powerscourt for St.Patrick's Day. It was a fantastic family day out, with Shamrock face-painting and a Ceili in the Grand Entrance Hall followed by a 'Shamrock Treasure Hunt' in Powerscourt Gardens.

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At Easter, families enjoyed 'Tink’s Treasure Trail' through the gardens, a nature trail inspired by the many different plants and flowers that are in bloom in the grounds of Powerscourt. 

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Head Gardener Michael and his team's hard work paid off when over 10,000 beautiful tulips arrived in Powerscourt as part of the annual Tulip Festival in April. Michael gave some brilliant guided walks this year on the Tulips, Rhododendron Walk and much more as the gardens progressed through each of the seasons. One of my favourite events was a 'Behind the Scenes' tour with Michael where we learnt how to clean the statues in the gardens and how he mows the sloped lawns!

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'The Wicklow Gardens Festival' in May and June saw some fantastic gardening and tree experts visit the gardens. Michael Seery kept us entertained with the 'Hidden Gems' of Powerscourt walking tour while President of the RHSI Robert Myerscough provided a fantastic tour of the trees of Powerscourt Gardens.

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One of the highlights of the year was our afternoon of ourdoor theatre featuring the one and only Sherlock Holmes in June. Over 200 people came along to Powerscourt armed with delicious picnics and rugs and made a day of it in the gardens. The Irish Times were there to cover the event on the most sunniest of days and the feedback from you all was terrific.

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Photo copyright of The Irish Times

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Photo copyright of The Irish Times

The amazing heatwave this summer meant we all got so many fantastic days outdoors with our families. Many of you came to walk and play in the gardens for Imaginosity's Enchanted Walk in July where a fictional 'Lady Powerscourt' led families on a tour of the gardens with myths and fairytales.

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Over 150 sparking and shiny vintage cars turned out for the annual Vintage Car Run at Powerscourt as part of Heritage Week in August. We were serenaded by cool sounds of jazz and had a lovely time chatting with the car owners and posing for photos beside their cars. 

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Also as part of Heritage Week, Imaginosity were back with us again for a performance of the play 'A Selfish Giant' and outdoor games at Powerscourt Waterfall. 

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The Wicklow Mountains National Park services kindly gave a wonderful Bat Walk along Powerscourt River Walk at Powerscourt in September where many bats reside. 

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We weren thrilled with the fabulous turnout we got for our foraging walk along the River Walk in September! Over 150 people came along to learn about all the wonderful edible things in our environment, it was a great day out. 

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One of the highlights of the year was the 'Perils of Powerscourt' at Halloween, a spooky walk designed by Imaginosity through the grounds of Powerscourt. Over 600 people came along on the day. With 800 years of history, Powerscourt has a wealth of spooky stories perfect for Halloween!

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In November, we were thrilled to discover that the tallest tree in Ireland is located right here on Powerscourt Estate! Head Gardener Michael Byrne brought a large crowd down to see the tree along Powerscourt River Walk and for a tour of this beautiful and quiet part of the estate.

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Last but not least! The wonderful Santa and Mrs Claus are back again at Powerscourt House for the month of December. It's been another wonderful year at Powerscourt and we look forward to putting on lots more events for you in 2014. A very happy Christmas to you from everyone at Powerscourt Estate.

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Powerscourt House, Powerscourt Waterfall, Events, Tree Week

Ireland’s Tallest Tree Discovered at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 4, 2013 2:56:00 PM

 

Ireland’s Tallest Tree Discovered at Powerscourt

A Douglas Fir along Powerscourt River Walk in County Wicklow has been officially recognised as the tallest tree in Ireland since records began by leading tree expert, Aubrey Fennell.  The tree stands at 61.5 metres, or 202 ft, towering above well-known landmarks including Dublin’s Liberty Hall (59.5 metres) and Niagara Falls (51m).   

The Douglas Fir is an evergreen coniferous tree, named after the Scottish botanist David Douglas, who first introduced it to Europe from North America in 1827. The Douglas Fir at Powerscourt is the first tree to surpass 60m in Ireland and is the seventh-highest tree in Europe.  It has been an Irish champion for over 20 years, overtaking other trees in Ireland including a Sitka spruce in Shelton Abbey and Curraghmore.

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The seventh Viscount Powerscourt went on a spree in the 1860’s and 1870’s, planting an abundance of trees at Powerscourt including sequoia, Sitka spruce, Monterey cypress and Corsican pine that all now reach heights of 40 to 50m. Located along Powerscourt River Walk, the tree is open to the public through annual membership of Powerscourt, and to guests staying at the Powerscourt Hotel. They are very privileged to access glorious woodland trails and Ireland’s own ‘Avenue of Giants’ that rivals all other contenders in Europe.

The champion tree at Powerscourt is included in Aubrey Fennell’s newly published book ‘Heritage Trees of Ireland’ available now from Collins Press. The book is the result of 15 years of searching, recording, photographing and measuring over 10,000 trees for the Tree Register of Ireland.

For more information on annual membership of Powerscourt, visit www.powerscourt.ie

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk