We spent our last night in an Irish B&B in the charming company of Rose and Brendan at their top quality B&B at Koliba in the little village of Avoca in the county of Wicklow. This was the location were that BBC series, Ballykissangel was filmed. We had dinner in at Fitzgerald’s Pub which stars in the show.
I couldn’t help but laugh this morning when Rose told us that her brother had worked for the Fire Brigade and he had a very successful career because he was very good at climbing the ladder ( she meant in a corporate sense).
After saying our farewells, we travelled through some scenic country and stopped at at little place called ‘The Meeting of the Waters’.
We spent a lot of time at the ancient monastic village near Glendalough with it’s lower and upper lakes. This is the site to which a monk named St Kevin moved and founded a monastery. He died in about 618. While he lived a solo life for most of his life, communing with nature and living in a cave, he attracted a large group of followers who appear to not have understood the irony that they were attracted to the life of a hermit. For six centuries afterwards, Glendalough flourished. The present remains tell only a small part of its story. The monastery in its heyday included workshops, areas for manuscript writing and copying, guest houses, an infirmary, farm buildings and dwellings for both the monks and a large lay population. The buildings which survive today probably date from between the 10th and 12th centuries.
We were in a rather remote area and wondered whether we would find a spot for lunch, but as luck would have it, we came across a rustic little pub at a tiny village called Hollywood. One of the waitresses had just returned to Ireland after ten years in Australia. A good sign of this little pubs lineage was the framed list (in perfect copperplate writing) of the champion 1934 local football team.
To get to our final destination, we crossed over a very rugged and remote area around Sally Gap. The road was just wide enough for two cars to pass as it threaded its way across the high moors and heathlands. A lot of people must go walking through this area of the Wicklow Mountains as almost ever car park along the road was full and we could see lots of people on the tracks kitted out for a day’s walk in the outdoors.
Our final destination for the day was at Powerscourt House & Gardens, some 30 kilometers south of Dublin. This property is a large country estate which is noted for its grand house and landscaped gardens which are extensive and typical of a house of nobility. The house, originally a 13th century castle, was extensively altered during the 18th century by German architect Richard Cassels, starting in 1731 and finishing in 1741. A fire in 1974 left the house lying as a shell until it was renovated in 1996. Today the estate is owned and run by the Slazenger family. It is a popular tourist attraction, and includes a golf course, an Avoca Handweavers store, restaurant, and a Ritz-Carlton hotel.
We returned to the same hotel in Dublin from which we started, two weeks or so ago. Ireland is about 20% larger in size than the island of Tasmania and in our 16 days of travel, we have driven a total of 2890 kilometers. That’s approximately the distance from Melbourne to Geraldton. No mishaps – just a lost hubcap somewhere on one of Ireland’s narrow, twisting roads.
Tomorrow, we return the car at Dublin airport and catch a flight to Edinburgh in Scotland.