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The Powerscourt Blog

Autumn colours at Powerscourt Waterfall

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 22, 2016 12:11:11 PM

Put yourself in the way of beauty
Cheryl Strayed

Few places are more beautiful than the Powerscourt Waterfall, Co Wicklow, on a sunny autumn day. Ireland’s highest waterfall (121m/398ft) has become a kind of pilgrimage for us – twice a year at least, we visit the stunning parkland at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains.

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This time, my 5-year-old’s best friend came along, with his mum and younger brother, during mid-term. As soon as he had heard the name ‘Powerscourt’, he pleaded to go and play on the toy diggers in the playground’s sandpit. All plans to visit the Powerscourt Gardens in all their autumn splendour were quickly shoved aside.

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As often when we go to the waterfall, the children played for ages on the fantastic playground, digging, swinging and climbing to their hearts’ content. 

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Then we walked to the waterfall itself. It was as majestic as ever, its blue waters flowing over jet-black rocks, with the whole gamut of autumn colours on the surrounding trees.

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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 Waterfall, Wicklow

New RTÉ Painting Programme Filmed at Powerscourt Estate

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 12, 2016 11:34:54 AM

Wicklow’s very own Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall was the location for the debut episode of RTE’s Painting the Nation, a TV programme which uncovers and showcases the best amateur painting talent across the island of Ireland. Produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ and presented by Pauline McLynn, the show’s finalists include carpenters, geologists, full-time mums, students and grannies who share a dream of painting for a living.

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After completing their challenges, a still life and painting drapery, in the Ballroom of Powerscourt House the painters were taken to the spectacular Powerscourt Waterfall. Following in the footsteps of some of Ireland’s greatest landscape painters, they captured the waters tumbling over the iconic Wicklow Mountains into the valley. It was a great opportunity to showcase this iconic ‘Garden of Ireland’ tourism attraction to tourists nationwide.

Over 50 different movies and TV series have been shot at Powerscourt Estate since Laurence Olivier started the trend by filming Henry V there in 1944. Since then films including The Count of Monte Cristo and King Arthur and chart-topping TV series Vikings and Penny Dreadful have been filmed here. To follow ‘Painting the Nation’ tune into RTÉ 1 Television on Sundays at 7.30pm.

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Waterfall

Sensory Nature Trail at Powerscourt Waterfall Review

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on May 24, 2016 10:01:10 AM

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Many thanks to our wonderful new blogger Sadhbh for this fantastic review of our sensory nature trail at Powerscourt Waterfall last weekend! Check out Sadhbh's blog here:  http://www.wherewishescomefrom.com/ 

"Yesterday, we had the very good fortune to be invited to visit Powerscourt Waterfall to attend their 'Sensory Nature Trail' event, which was hosted by Imaginosity (Dublin's Children's Museum). As a family, we are very interested in and inspired by the natural world so it sounded like a great way for us to spend a Sunday afternoon. However, visiting the highest waterfall in Ireland is never a bad idea and it's a must-see if you're in the Wicklow area

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The sun shone as we made our way down the winding avenue towards the waterfall and we easily spotted the Imaginosity team sitting on picnic blankets waiting for the children to arrive. They had lots of interesting things laid out for us to explore. Shells, model insects and leaves which could be inspected by magnifying glass. There were also some beautiful books about nature, from which we learned about the life-cycle of the butterfly. 

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When everyone had gathered together we practiced listening, looking, feeling and smelling in preparation for our sensory walk. We were also offered the chance to make some 'nature bracelets' which I thought was a simple-but-brilliant idea. (Clearly evidenced by the fact that I was the only parent that accepted the offer...) One of the team wrapped wide tape around our wrists, so that the sticky side faced up, and we collected little flowers, moss, grass, seeds, leaves, etc and stuck them to it as we walked. We all ended up with rather fetching bracelets by the end of the day! 

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The pace of the trail was perfect. There was no rush at all and there was enough time at each 'station' for each child to fully engage with the task. Throughout, the Imaginosity team always took the time to pay attention to the little discoveries the children made along the way and to share them with the group. They really made each child feel included and the atmosphere in the group was friendly and relaxed. 

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Along the trail we had a chance to talk about trees and to take rubbings from the bark of a Giant Redwood. We also had a chance to fly like butterflies and to climb like spiders in a giant 'spiderweb'. We met a frog in the grass, smelled dried lavender, felt (and tasted!) fresh pine needles. We made a wish at the wishing bridge, painted with mud (!) by the river, visited a fairy tree filled with glitter and found sparkling stones in the river, before finally making our way up to the beautiful waterfall. It truly was a feast for the senses.

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Moments after this picture was taken the frog leapt from captivity and 'kissed' Sábha on the face

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And after all that, the team somehow still had the energy to play some games with us! We played with a huge colourful parachute and had some sack-races - which were hilarious. Especially when the parents took part...

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My girls were reluctant to leave the place at the end of the event and have been talking about it non-stop since. They were excited to tell their teacher all about it this morning - which is the highest of compliments from them these days! It was a great event and a really lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon.
 
Powerscourt Estate have a wonderful programme of events lined up for the year ahead and I highly recommend checking them out. You're bound to find something suitable for your family. Or for yourself!

Disclosure: We were invited by Powerscourt Estate to attend the Sensory Nature Trail for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own, however, and I was not paid to give them. 

About Sadhbh:

Hello! My name is Sadhbh.
 
(My name looks tricky to pronounce, but it sounds like the number five... if the number five started with an S - 'Sive') -
I am mama to little twin girls, Lile and Sábha (more tricky names - Lilla & Saw-va!). They are the apples of my eyes.
I am married to Devo, my very lovely and very tall husband.
I love to write, craft, create, hang around in nature, bake, read other people's blogs and as many books as possible, listen to music, learn about and experience as many new things as I can in my one precious life.
This blog is where I write about seasonal celebrations, simple craft projects and the adventures I have with my girls. I also mention fairies and unicorns a fair bit...

You can check out Sadhbh's blog here: http://www.wherewishescomefrom.com/ 

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Topics: Events, Powerscourt Waterfall, Wicklow

Sense-sational Nature Trail at Powerscourt Waterfall!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on May 16, 2016 4:17:27 PM

Escape to the inspiring surroundings of Ireland’s highest waterfall at Powerscourt and use all of your senses to explore and discover the natural world around you.

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Enjoy a sense-sational, sensory experience with Imaginosity, Dublin’s Childrens’ Museum on the 22nd of May at 2pm. Take part in a sensory trail, interactive sensory activities and outdoor family games! Get right up close to Ireland’s highest waterfall, and walk the natural woodland trails in the surrounding parkland.

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Families can bring along a picnic or BBQ and really make a day of it! Suitable for ages 3 to 10 years. The event costs €16 for a family of 5, with entrance to the waterfall included. To book your place, visit www.powerscourt.com/events
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Topics: Events, Powerscourt Waterfall, Wicklow

Nature Detectives at Powerscourt Waterfall - A Review!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 8, 2015 12:58:59 PM

I love Powerscourt Waterfall and have been there a few times over the last couple of years with the children; however, we haven’t been there as a family for over four years. So I was delighted when we were invited to attend the Imaginosity event ‘Nature Detectives’ at Powerscourt Waterfall yesterday!

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We intended on arriving early and having a quick play at the playground before meeting up with the Imaginosity team by ‘the big tree’ as instructed on the ticket. Of course, best laid plans meant that we arrived breathless and just in time. I was smiling brightly and trying to ignore the - ‘I am too old for this’ and ‘talk about a good walk ruined’ comments from our eldest and Mr Dad.

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Quite aptly for the weekend that was in it, the meeting place was clearly marked by a bright rainbow coloured parachute which was laid out on the ground. Martina - one of the three Imaginosity staff present - welcomed us all warmly and chatted animatedly about our plans for the day. You could not help but be infused with a little of her boundless enthusiasm (which was still there at the end of the day, even when some brats children were getting  a little rambunctious).

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All the children were given a sheet of clues and a pencil, told where to start and what time to return and then we were off! It was all a bit crowded and manic at the start but by the time we had reached the third clue we had all spread out and were happily going at our own pace. Everyone, that is, except my boy Conan who is nothing if not competitive. He was bailing along following the trail and ticking off all the clues without a backward glance to us. Paul had to catch up with him and encourage him to wait for the rest of his team (a.k.a. his family) to catch up!

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Caoimhe, who was ‘too old’, didn’t take long to get into the spirit of things and was soon caught up in the trail and discovering a few fun facts that were laid out along the way. Did you know the air up at Powerscourt Waterfall is negatively charged, so breathing it in promotes a refreshed and relaxed feeling?? I do now!

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We fairly powered through the nature trail and discovered a few things that were not on the list, such as the Fairy Tree which was pointed out to us by Martina – the staff didn’t rest on their laurels but popped up here and there along the trail to keep us on track. Importantly, they also gave us space to enjoy ourselves as a family.

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The trail ended at the waterfall where we hung out for a while, climbing and exploring, before meeting back with the rest of the crew at the appointed time. Martina and crew had some samples of wild flowers and plastic insects and bugs which were laid out for the children to examine with magnifying glasses. Caoimhe and Conan delighted in putting  the bugs in the magnifying jar and examining them in great detail.

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The best part of the event, according to my children, were the games at the end; they got to have sack races and play organised games with the parachute, laughing and giggling throughout. The best part according to me was that the children really did stop to look at and examine the natural world around them.

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Then it was time to say goodbye to the very popular Imaginosity team who really did deserve medals (or at least an ice-cream). Our day didn’t end there. We headed up to the fantastic playground where the children played happily for a good hour before we shared a tub of candy floss and headed home, tired but happy.  We will definitely be making a few trips back there over the Summer!

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Disclaimer: We were invited to attend ‘Nature Detectives’ for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and words are my own.

Aisling Lyons

Aisling is a blogger for Powerscourt Estate who writes 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, Guest Blog, Events, Powerscourt Waterfall, Wicklow

Nature Detectives at Powerscourt Waterfall

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Apr 30, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Would your family enjoy becoming nature detectives for a day? Get your senses ready for a great family day out in the beautiful surrounds of Powerscourt Waterfall in County Wicklow on 24th of May from 2pm to 4pm. Meet your Chief Nature Detective and receive your instructions and mission map.  Could you become a nature detective by using all of your senses to explore, discover and learn about the bugs, beasties and plant life at Powerscourt Waterfall? Join Imaginosity, Dublin Children’s Museum at Powerscourt Waterfall on a great outdoor nature trail to find out!

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Enjoy a day out with Imaginosity’s friendly team, get right up close to Ireland’s highest waterfall, and walk the natural woodland trails in the surrounding parkland. Families can bring along a picnic or BBQ and really make a day of it! Experience a hands-on approach to exploring our natural world, designed to engage the senses and create a deeper appreciation of our natural heritage.

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The event is suitable for children aged 3-10 years. Included in the ticket price is entry to the beautiful Powerscourt Waterfall. Tickets can be bought in advance online through www.powerscourt.com/events.

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Events, Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Estate celebrates strong visitor numbers in 2014

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 14, 2015 3:35:33 PM

Powerscourt Estate is celebrating very strong visitor numbers in 2014 as 380,000 guests visited Powerscourt Gardens and Waterfall over the past 12 months. This represents a +10% increase on 2013 visitor numbers and confirms Powerscourt Estate’s place as the most visited paid tourist attraction in County Wicklow. 233,000 people visited Powerscourt Gardens in 2014, up +11% over the previous year, while visitors to Powerscourt Waterfall were up by +8% at 147,000.

Some high-profile visitors to the estate in 2014 included the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina, Chinese political leader Mr. Liu Yunshan, actors Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett, Colin Farrell, Gabriel Byrne and Travis Flimmel (known for his lead role as Ragnar Lothbrok in Vikings). Popular TV series filmed on the estate in 2014 included gothic horror ‘Penny Dreadful’ and the historical drama ‘Vikings.’

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Visitors from the United Kingdom to Powerscourt Gardens were up by +56% while USA visitors were up +50%. Visitors from China to Powerscourt grew by 25%, making them the third-most important market in terms of visitors to the gardens.

Celebrating the high number of visitors achieved, Sarah Slazenger, Managing Director of Powerscourt Estate commented: "2014 confirmed that our stunning Powerscourt House and Gardens is a must-see attraction in Ireland.  Now number 3 in the world's top ten gardens, as voted by National Geographic and awarded a certificate of excellence by Tripadvisor, it justifies our continued programme of investment in providing a better and better experience for our visitors.”

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Waterfall

Is Powerscourt a place to visit more than once, and why?

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Dec 23, 2014 11:52:06 AM

We recently ran a competition and asked our social media fans' Is Powerscourt a place to visit more than once, and why?' The prize was annual membership for one family and what we thought was the most intriguing and clear answer was the winner! Below are the entries and the winning entry was: 

Sue B: "Powerscourt Gardens is the most magnificent place to visit. You just can't see everything in one visit. As the seasons change the gardens change too. The beautiful thing about the gardens is the familiarity of the gardens, they welcome you each time like an old friend but as your welcomed in, its like you're finding things out about that friend you never knew. Lovely secrets at every turn. It's the one place you can go that you can lose yourself in time. You can visit every garden all at once or just sit back in your amazing surroundings and just watch the world go by. It truly is the closest place to Heaven. It lifts the heart, soothes the soul and energises the body"

Congrats Sue! Here are the other entries:  

Sharon K: Absolutely from the acres of springtime flowers to the snows of winter no two days are the same there is always something new to see :0)

Andrea C: I've been visiting powerscourt since I was a child, this magical place has held me captivated each and every time I go. From pretending to be a princess trapped in the tower or a geisha in the Japanese gardens, to first dates walking hand in hand around the lake, and the perfect place to practise photography skills in college right the way to today, when I take anyone who hasn't been before, half because I want to show powerscourt off to visitors, and half because I want an excuse to go again!

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Beth H: Always something new to see and do in Powerscourt

Liz L: Everytime we visit the journey up the drive takes our breath away and that's only the beginning.There is something for everyone in such a magical place. It's fun for the family and also a place where my husband and I go when we want some time together in beautiful surroundings.Everytime I visit I get a warm tingling feeling it makes me do happy and I always look forward to our next visit.Thanks for all the memories, santa, communions, family days out..hope there will be many more happy memories in powerscourt.

 

Mira S: Any time I visit Dublin, powerscourt gardens is MUST. Every time it looks different but every time amazing!!!

Margaret C: because it is simply stunning and makes you happy to be alive!

Katherine OB: Powerscourt is a place to go and escape from everyday life. Its like another world in powerscourt

 

Fiona F: powerscourt is a year round beauty you have to see the pet graveyard in the damp dark weather the pepper tower in mid autumn surrounded by leaves and lunch should be enjoyed in high summer by the beautiful water and if your ever lucky enough to make it in the snow the entire world changes everything takes on a magical air and glow like something out of a fairytail much can be seen year round in powerscourt and much can be gained from seeing it 

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Lyn K: A beautiful treat for all seasons!

Petra B: That must be the longest running competition ever. Over a year before we know the winner! But to answer the question: Powerscourt Estate is the most beautiful and peaceful place.

Cathy B: Beautiful peaceful place to walk around

 

Teresa C: powerscourt is like stepping back in time it is so beautiful as you step out on the terrace and view the italian gardens the grand steps down to them the japanese garden the pet cemetery of course you can enjoy the beautiful restaurant and shops here too you can sit out on the terrace and have your lucn and soak up the views of the the wicklow mountains

Martina B: Amazing and stunning the grounds are fab and inside is so lovely ..

Mark P: Love the gardens totally amazing would love to bring the kids for a chillaxing day

Andrea D: Because it is a timeless beauty!

Sarah C: Without a doubt it's a fantastic place for all ages. We were lucky to get a membership at Christmas last year and have loved it. The landscape changes weekly. There's fab events you can avail of weekly and the staff are amazing and super friendly. Fingers crossed Santa's good to us again this year x x

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Elaine H: Most definitely love going different time of the year watching the seasons chamge in the leaves & flowers & savouring the peacefullness as you wander around the estate. Finishing off with a coffee in the avoca cafe.

Aisling ON: :It's an unspoilt beauty of Ireland 

 

Claudine C: Such a beautiful place to visit......I think I lived there in a past life and may have burried my pets at the pet cemetary !!!!! Merry Christmas

Sonja O: What a beautiful prize and one to share with all the family making memories in the great outdoors. Wonderful!

Michelle L: Yes definitely, it's looks different with every season, the different colours of trees in autumn are beautiful

Nat L: We go back as often as we can - why? Because it's a magical place somewhere between Narnia and Wonderland where I feel like a child again only happier. 

Celine H: I love Powerscourt it is just magical like Narnia in Wicklow...we have been many times and will continue to do so...we even visited the gardens when the house was in ruins....whenever we visit the locality we bring more visitors with us and recommend it to anyone going to visit the area   omg I honestly wrote this before reading anything else....it is magical...a few times we have been the weather was not too good but as soon as we stepped into the garden the sun was shining there....wonderful, beautiful, spectacular.....love it

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Mick B: Every day is different..light, flowers.. Weather:) ..so every day is special..

Margaret McG: I would love to visit given the chance we have never been. I looks wonderful at any time of year.

Tanya H: Because the romance of Powerscourt grows stronger with every visit 

Angela G: Absolutely love it, on my own, with my husband or with the kids. It is a sanctuary and you can't but be in good form the minute you enter the driveway wander up the drive and make your way through the house & into the gardens . You are transported into another world almost its maintained so beautifully. Living close I visit as much as I possibly can and most especially throughout the Autumn months as the leaves change colour..it's just breathtaking # one of my favourite places in the world

Kelley M: I have been to ireland 4 times and missed seeing Powerscourt each visit, though I've wished to see it. This year I'm making it a priority. Just bought my airfare last night and in July I will be blessed to finally view it's splendors! So excited!

Roisin F: There are so many different ways to spend your time at Powerscourt it's a sin not to return and experience more. There's the beautiful Waterfall set into the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, a perfect spot for a family picnic and fun to be had in the playground. There's the woods full of wonder stretching all the way down from the gatehouse to the falls and the unforgettable formal gardens. The seasons and the changes they bring all make Powerscourt Estate such a special place.

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Deirdre D:  Four seasons each bringing a different prospect of Powerscourt Estate ,waterfall, forest walks and breathtaking views, Past and present and on into the future.

Gwen O'B: Although we've only been on one trip there, we'd go back again and again. Ireland as a whole seems to only shift in lovelinness in different weather. However foul the onslaught of rain, it fails to ever blur the lush landscape beyond beauty. No matter how glaring the sun strikes the Oceanside, it can't conceal the powerful glory of waves cresting and shattering on jagged shorelines. Having only glimpsed powerscourt estate in the glimmering gleam of a fearlessly sunny day that saturated the gardens with their brightest pigments and watched the estate grounds become gilded with the stretching tendrils of a golden sunset, we can only imagine its utter beauty magnified throughout the seasons and wish only to see it turn each varying face of beauty to the world when we're around to see it.

 

Natacha O'B: From the beauty of its gardens and water features to the eccentricities of its follies and pet cemetery, there is something to feast your eyes and soul
 
Joe S: There's a lot of history there (since 1731) and history takes time. So many visits are required to appreciate all it offers.
Jackie D: A gorgeous and special family outing!
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Cathleen K: Have to visit again because the first time we visited we didn't have our two boys with us - and we discovered that it is such a wonderous place with so much to see and do - we know they will love it as much as we did - so we are planning a return visit as soon as we can. 
Fiona L: Because you can bring the kids' imaginations to life in powerscourt.
Louisa C: Fantastic memories of family trips to powerscourt waterfall and gardens 
Nina: I loved it so much I blogged about it  my 5 kiddies adored it and made it an adventure never to be forgotten we really want to go back again and especially the four seasons to see the different flowers
Tracy H: It looks so magical it makes me want to tear up. I'd park up a chair and stare at the windows to see if I could see a ghost.
Mari B: because i went when i was little and i think it's time i brought my littlies!
Liz Mc C: Would love  to have a wander around the gardens have never seen them.it would be lovely to get away from the stress of life and relax.
Kerry ML: Could you truly appreciate all its splendour and glory in just one visit???
Sarah P: So much to do in Powerscourt with just the grounds and the gardens not to the mention the restaurant. It can be for families or just a romantic getaway. Would go back numerous of times With or without kids.
Colm K: Beautiful gardens and walkways all year round
Teresa M: It is such a beatuiful place childhood memories
Diane A: The food is worth visiting for weekly never mind once a year. Plus that amazing shop that sells the fresh food. Salivating now
Mark Q: Lovely place to spend some relaxing time
 
Conor S: Since my great grandfather was a gardener there, it is truly wonderful to experience the gardens he worked in and the intriguing history of Powerscourt.
Kevin B: Like any beautiful place,each season brings new possibilities for walkers,photographers and nature lovers.
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Ginger M: It's a truly beautiful and magical place. There's so very much to see that you have to visit it more than once to see it all and you have to visit it in more than one season of the year to take in the full expanse of beauty and majesty that it has to offer.
Veronica M: Its so beautiful would love to see it again
Angela M: : Because when I leave the city and spend some time at Powerscourt I feel like I'm in a different world. Love to bring my grandchildren there and have lot of fun together.
Ashley K: Food for my soul. I first visited when I was a small girl, life has changed, loves have been lost, but now Powerscourt is part of my history, great memories that I love to relive every time I visit.
Sandra W: It`s a haven of tranquility.
Sue B: Powerscourt Gardens is the most magnificent place to visit.You just cant see everything in one visit. As the seasons change the gardens change too. The beautiful thing about the gardens is the familiarity of the gardens, they welcome you each time like an old friend but as you're welcomed in its like you're finding things out about that friend you never knew. Lovely secrets at every turn. Its the one place you can go that you can loose yourself in time. You can visit every garden all at once or just sit back in your amazing surroundings and just watch the world go by. It truly is the closest place to Heaven. It lifts the heart, soothes the soul and energises the body.
Christine MS: Once twice three times a visit....Why and stop there.....It's exquisite !
Arthur R: Yea, so much to see; the lake the gardens and trees, the exquisite Japanese garden, the waterfall the spring freshness the autumn colours and the summer blue skies (even in Wiklow!!)... brilliant!!
Tamasine P: Because you always find something new!
Thanks everyone!
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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Gardening, Powerscourt Waterfall

Learn more about the Highest Waterfall in Ireland! Did you know....?

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on May 6, 2014 12:43:00 PM

 

This weekend why not pay a visit to the beautiful Powerscourt Waterfall in County Wicklow! When you arrive stand for a moment and listen to the sound of the River Dargle as it plunges 121m (397ft) over Ireland’s highest waterfall into Powerscourt Estate.  Can you feel the power of the rushing water? Do you notice the cool mist, formed as the river crashes against the rock, which gives life to the variety of mosses and ferns that grow nearby?

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Did you know?

Powerscourt Waterfall is known as a ‘horse-tail’ waterfall, because the water stays in contact with the bedrock as it falls.

Carved by a Glacier

The landscape didn’t always look like this. Had you been standing here 20,000 years ago you would have been very cold indeed, as Ireland was in the frozen grip of an Ice Age! The steep cliff before you over which the waterfall flows was created by a glacier which, as it retreated, carved out the valley in which you now stand.

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Uncover the past

The cliff was formed at the contact point between two different types of rock, granite and mica schist. Look at the boulders and rocks at the base of the waterfall and along the banks of the river – can you pick out the two types? The slatey mica schist, with its silvery sheen is easily distinguished from the whiter, speckled crystalline granite.

King George IV’s lucky escape

In August 1821, Richard Wingfield (5th Viscount Powerscourt) dammed the river above the waterfall in preparation for a visit from King George IV. His intention was to release a massive torrent of water to impress His Majesty with the power and magnificence of the famed waterfall. However the King, who was rumored to be as wide as he was tall, spent too long at the banquet table and never went to see it. This turned out to be a stroke of good fortune, as when the water was released, it washed away the specially-built viewing platform on which he was to stand!

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Waterfalls are good for you!

How? As water falls, droplets in the water are broken up, and an abundance of negatively charged particles are released. As a result, the air around a waterfall becomes negatively charged. This is said to leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed... Can you feel it?

Come and experience Powerscourt Waterfall for yourself! Find out more about Powerscourt Waterfall.

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Guest Blog, Powerscourt Waterfall

Novice Birders Needs and Wants - Bird-watching at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Mar 25, 2014 10:22:00 AM

This week we have a fantastic guest blog article on bird-watching from Ena Ronayne. Ena has a passion for birds and is going to share some great tips on getting started with bird-watching ahead of our guided walk with Niall Hatch from Bird-Watch Ireland on Thursday 27th March at 11am at Powerscourt Waterfall. Read on…

"June 2009 saw both myself and himself indoors venture down to my native County of Cork to spend a magical weekend bird-watching with Steve Wing, Warden at Cape Clear Observatory. I mention this merely to set the scene and share with you a ‘real’ first encounter with all things birds.  For sure we have all seen the odd Robin or feral pigeon and recognise them immediately don’t we?  But this was somehow different.

Our first day out found us at Cotter’s Garden a short stroll from the observatory.  The weather was not conducive to birding although we did see a few.  Luckily we had remembered both binoculars and rain gear (more about that later). On our return, Steve got us to sketch a bird, not to see if anatomically our drawing would be correct, but merely to focus our minds on the key shape of a bird inclusive of bill and silhouette.  This exercise proved to be an invaluable one and was for us the start of a birding love affair.

A Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) on a branch of a tree resized 600

Looking back now I am astonished how people miss the obvious. I was one of them!  For example, that bird you’ve just noticed - what shape was it’s bill?  Where was it spotted?  These and many other questions are routinely asked by birders when birdwatching (sometimes subconsciously).  Of course the answer now that I’m a little wiser and more experienced is easy.  A bird’s bill and where a bird is spotted are possibly two of the most important things to learn and will help you to identify the bird precisely.

If you’re keen to start birding be sure to check out the following.  A word of caution though, once you start there’s no way back as you'll soon find bird-watching can be addictive!  

Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla resized 600

  • Bird watching from home: Why not start in your own garden or from your kitchen window and while away the hours identifying birds from the comfort of your armchair.  It would be impossible for me to list all the birds of Ireland so instead I am including this wonderful piece ‘A list of Irish Birds’ compiled by Joe Hobbs from my local South County Dublin Branch of Birdwatch Ireland (BWI).  Half the battle with identifying birds is to get them to remain still.  This can be achieved by feeding so be sure to provide the 'Right food' for those birds you wish to attract.  Did you know, for example, that Robins love mealworms, Goldfinches adore Nyjer Seed and Blue Tits have a passion for Sunflower Hearts? Obviously the feeder type you use depends on the feed.  Don’t forget about the plants you grow in your garden.  Shrubs such as Pyracantha and Cotoneaster that fruit in the Autumn are much loved by thrushes and these same plants can also provide cover for birds and a place to nest.

Chaffinch on a branch resized 600
  • Your local park may have feeding stations, I know Cabinteely Park does.  This is the best vantage point to identify birds.  If you’re lucky at this time of year you may even get to see a Great-Spotted Woodpecker!  Be sure to research the local park before you go and read up on what birds you may see with relevance to time of day and year.  Better still, why not pop along to the upcoming bird-watching walk with Niall Hatch (Education Officer with Birdwatch Ireland) on Thursday next at Powerscourt?  It’s a perfect opportunity and a great introduction to birding.    

  • Join a local bird watching group: Not only will you get to know other birdwatchers and share your knowledge and meet experienced birders who can help hone your skills, you will have lots of opportunities to go on organised birding tours.  Since joining Birdwatch Ireland not only have I been to Cape Clear, I’ve been to Castle Espie in Co Down, Wexford Wildfowl reserve and many other amazing places and have seen some rare birds as well.  By going on an organised tour you too will have an opportunity to see great birds under the guidance of experienced birders.  

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) posing resized 600
  • Websites:  For current nationwide sightings check out Irish Birding.  If you’re thinking of visiting Bull Island be sure to check out their website here.  BWI Wicklow branch are on facebook and have a ‘whoami’ ID test which is another superb way to learn to identify your birds.  Finally it would be remiss of me not to include Birdwatch Ireland, the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland. Established in 1968 with over 14,000 members and supporters and a local network of over 20 branches nationwide, BWI website is a wonderful resource for both novice and experienced birders.

  • Smartphone Apps: There are a number of birding apps available to enhance your birding, here are a few which I have yet to use but have been recommended.  RSPB lovebirds app priced at £4.99 is a comprehensive app that allows users to identify birds, listen to birdsong, and access detailed information from the charity’s experts on birds’ appearance, diet and distribution.   BirdsEye UK, Europe & Western Palearctic is a simple but powerful tool for birders. It is simple, easy and fast to use so you can spend your time seeing birds!  Birds of Britain and Ireland (Pro Edition) is a high-quality digital field guide covering 271 species of birds regularly seen in Britain and Ireland. This list covers all except the rarest vagrants and includes every bird likely to be seen by the vast majority of birdwatchers throughout the year.

long eared owl (Asio otus) in the tree resized 600

So what’s needed for birding?

Suitable clothing, good rain gear, walking boots and a field bag are essential when birding.  My field bag, a waterproof rucksack is always at the ready for our next bird outing and is very useful for carrying all our supplies. Depending on the time of year sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm, insect repellent, aspirin, plasters, antiseptic cream or a torch might also be added to the field bag. Remember birdwatching may involve periods of prolonged walking, sometimes miles from civilisation, so be sure to pack a lunch, a flask and a bottle of water, as well as these essential tools.

Binoculars: One of the most important pieces of kit you’ll need, birdwatching is impossible without binoculars. Every birder needs his or her own binoculars, especially if like me you are a glasses wearer.  You don't have to spend a fortune on purchasing binoculars when you start out but do try and get the best you can afford.  The BirdWatch Ireland shop in Kilcoole, also available online, is an excellent place to start your search.  

Redpoll on the tree of alder resized 600

Field Guide: My personal favourites have to be ‘The Complete Field Guide to Ireland’s Birds’ by Eric Dempsey and Michael O’Clery. Published by Gill & Macmillan in 2010 and ‘Finding Birds in Ireland, The Complete Guide‘ by Eric Dempsey and Michael O’Clery. Published by Gill & Macmillan in 2007.  This ‘Where to Watch or Find Birds’ type of guide book is essential and describes the best locations within a region to watch birds, along with descriptions of the likely birds and habitat that are found, the best time to visit and directions to the site.  The former is a beautifully illustrated book describing approximately 370 species from the very common to the rarely seen.  If you’re not in a position to buy these books you can of course borrow them from your local library, which is especially useful until you find your feet in the world of birding.

Notebook: Keep a pencil and notebook handy for making notes from field observations. Record your sightings - keep track of what you have seen, where and when, this way you can begin to map populations.

Singing Common Chiffchaff resized 600

Mobile Phone & Car phone Charger: Ensure you phone has been charged before you set off as bird watching can take place in remote locations so keeping in contact in case of emergency is essential.  

As a novice birdwatcher I love to encourage people to appreciate and learn from the birds around us. If you are keen to take up birding as a hobby, I would highly recommend the upcoming Bird-Watching Walk at Powerscourt on Thursday 27th March.  Above all, have fun! Bird-watching is a fantastic medium for experiencing wildlife, travelling to new places and meeting new people."

Ena Ronayne

Thanks Ena!

About Ena Ronayne: Based in South Co Dublin Ena Ronayne, horticulturist / teacher is an avid promoter of all things horticultural in Ireland and beyond. She can help you design, build, plant or maintain any growing space whether for vegetables or ornamentals. For more information email enaronayne@gmail.com or telephone +353868259166

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Guest Blog, Events, Powerscourt Waterfall