Powerscourt House: Discover the Enchanting Gardens of County Wicklow

Powerscourt House and Garden County Wicklow

Updated On: June 12, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

The Incredible Powerscourt House and Gardens in County Wicklow are one of the must-see things in Ireland. National Geographic Magazine voted the estate No.3 for its spectacular gardens on its list of the top ten gardens around the world, which is pretty impressive.

The Irish attraction is also famous for being the home of Ireland’s tallest waterfall, which, when you see it up close, will give you that wow factor. It’s pretty amazing, to say the least, and no photo will ever do it justice.

Lonely Planet also voted the Powerscourt House as one of the top 10 houses in the world. All these fantastic acknowledgements should make you want to head straight to Wicklow and discover the beauty at the Powerscourt Estate, as there is so much to see and enjoy that will make for an unforgettable time in Ireland.

The History at Powerscourt House

Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland - October 28, 2019: Powerscourt House and Gardens is one of Ireland top tourist attraction. Powerscourt House
Powerscourt House and Gardens is one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions

The magnificent house here allows those visiting to explore its compelling 800 years of history.  Starting with the 1st Viscount Powerscourt, who wanted to make sure he left his mark on Ireland long after he was gone, he converted a medieval Irish castle into a spectacular and grand mansion, the Powerscourt House. 

In 1730, he hired one of Ireland’s most renowned architects at the time, Richard Castle, to build his vision for the Powerscourt House. A remarkable mansion with 68 rooms was officially completed in 1741 on the beautiful County Wicklow estate.

The house was created in the style of Palladian architecture with unique features that included baroque domed-roof towers on both sides. This grand architecture was considered “ the massive dignity of a great Italian Renaissance Villa” by an architectural historian.

On the north side of the house, it was given a grand entrance again with the Palladian architecture style in mind, while the south side faced open to the gardens and was originally only two storeys high. In 1787, they added an extra storey and more renovations were made in the 19th century. 

The insides of the house are just as spectacular as the outside, if not more, with some of the finest 19th-century interiors on display, which helped it become recognised as one of Ireland’s most beautiful mansions. The Powerscourt House was then purchased by the Slazenger family in 1961 from the 9th Viscount Powerscourt.

A Blazing Tale

Powerscourt House & Gardens | Enniskerry | County Wicklow | Ireland | Places to See in Ireland

In 1974, after significant renovations to the house, which was to join the Powerscourt Gardens as a visitor attraction, an awful fire broke out on the top floor of the house on 4 November. By the following day, the central part of Powerscourt’s roof fell through.

However, no one was hurt in the fire, but tremendous damage was caused to the main reception rooms and bedrooms. The walls of the house, which had stonework dating back to the 13th century, offered a harsh reminder of the tragic fire for 20 years.

Eventually, in 1996, the roof of Powerscourt House was fixed, and President Mary Robinson officially opened the house in 1997 to allow visitors to the attraction.  

Today’s Powerscourt House

Powerscourt House offers a fine example of Irish design both inside and out
Powerscourt House offers a fine example of Irish design both inside and out.

Today, visitors can explore the brilliant Powerscourt House, offering a fine example of Irish design both inside and out. It is truly an Irish gem with lots to offer and stunning views overlooking the famous Sugarloaf Mountain.

It is a place perfect for relaxing, wandering around the excellent store selection, and stopping by the famous Avoca Terrance Cafe for a sweet treat.

The Powerscourt House has become a bespoke shopping area where you can discover the best Irish designs in jewellery, furniture, and clothing.

The Avoca stores are located here, and they sell a range of books, childrenswear, and soft furnishings. The delicious food area is also located here. All the food is sourced locally, including the renowned Avoca jams, homemade bread, and irresistible cakes.

If you enjoy finding unique pieces that would be perfect for your home, you must check out Global Village on the first floor of the Irish Mansion. It offers an eclectic selection of furniture and accessories to give your home that wow factor that will certainly impress others.

The Powerscourt House has also turned into a fantastic wedding venue. Set within the enchanting Wicklow Mountains, it offers authentic Irish beauty. This would be the perfect location to make your special day unforgettable.

The Powerscourt Estate Gardens

One thing that draws visitors to the Powerscourt Estate is the world-renowned gardens on display here. The fantastic garden designs are led by the head gardener, Alex Slazenger. He regularly tours the gardens for those wishing to learn more about his team’s magnificent work and ensures the gardens look their best all year long.

The Italian Garden

First, of the amazing gardens you’ll find at the Powerscourt Estate is the truly inspiring landscape and design of the ‘Italian Gardens’, which is powered by the dramatic backdrop of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The captivating terraces in this garden were created by the original garden architect, Daniel Robertson, in the 1840s. He brought the garden to life and will make you stop and appreciate its undeniable beauty.

Incredibly, the garden terraces linking the Powerscourt House to the lake took 12 years to build, and over 100 labourers were needed to do the job.

It is known as the ‘Italian Garden’ because it is heavily influenced by Italian architecture and design. For example, the stone terrace closest to the house was inspired by Villa Butera in Sicily, Italy.

A bit of history was also left here by the 7th Viscount, who was taken out of school at seven years old to lay the first stone on the garden grounds.

One of the most famous features of the ‘Italian Garden’ is the life-sized winged horses looking over the lake. Other features include the coat of arms of the family made by Professor Hugo Hagen in Berlin. The eye-catching fountain in the lake, again inspired by the Italian-designed fountain in the Piazza Barberini in Rome, is also impressive.

Japanese Garden

Just as impressive as the Italian Garden is the tranquil oriental-styled Japanese Garden at Powerscourt Estate. Again, the design of this Japanese Garden was created over 100 years ago by the 8th Viscount of Powerscourt in 1908.

It offers some of the most amazing Irish scenery on view at Lord Londonderry’s seat, perched overlooking the Japanese Garden. This was considered a favourite spot for him to stop and enjoy the views on display, and you can do the same today.

The Japanese Garden has its own unique style and meaning. Beautiful stone lanterns guide you through its lovely garden paths, which lead to its innermost circle. At the circle, you’ll find a Pagoda and a small stream located under a unique Japanese bridge.

This will then lead you to another circle, including a ring of Chinese Fortune Palms, which have been famous in China for many centuries but were first brought to Europe in 1830. The next circle offers stunning views of the Japanese Gardens, with the eye-catching colours of the Japanese maples most noticeable in Autumn. 

The concept behind each circle is to help people discover their inner selves as they go outwards to gain a more excellent knowledge of the world. It’s also a must to toss a coin in the Japanese Garden, and hopefully, you’ll find luck in the future.

Next to the Japanese Garden, check out one of the oldest features in the Powerscourt Estate: The Grotto. It is a fascinating cave that dates back to the 1st Viscount Garden in 1740. It offers a beautiful look with a romantic atmosphere that will captivate you as you wander around.

Ireland’s Highest Waterfall 

You can’t visit the Powerscourt Estate without checking out one of its breathtaking features—the waterfall, of course. Standing 393ft high and within one of Ireland’s most stunning parklands, it will truly leave you in awe.

The waterfall has often provided the ideal summer location for a picnic and to enjoy the Irish weather when it’s at its best. The area is also a haven for wildlife, and people are made to be mindful of this and let the animals roam freely.

Powerscourt House offers so much to see, with its enchanting gardens, historic house, shopping facility, and more, making for a memorable trip in County Wicklow.

Opening Times and Prices for The Powerscourt Attractions

Waterfall Times:

  • January/February/November/December: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm
  • March/April/September/October: 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
  • May/June/July/August: 9:30 am – 7:00 pm

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult: €7.50
  • Senior: 6.50
  • Child (Under 16’s): €3:50 
  • Family Ticket (Two adults and up to three children): €19
  • Children under 2 are free

Powerscourt Garden Opening Times

  • Daily – 9:30 am – 5:30 pm – (Last entry 5 pm)
  • Dust throughout Winter
  • Closed on 25th & 26th of December

Avoca Terrance Cafe Opening Times

  • Daily – 9:30 – 5:30 pm

The Powerscourt Distillery

Another dimension of the Powerscourt experience is the Powerscourt Distillery. Located on the estate, the distillery is housed in the carefully restored Old Mill House, allowing visitors to explore the art of Irish whiskey production. The distillery produces a range of premium whiskeys, drawing on the estate’s rich heritage and natural resources.

Visitors can take guided tours of the distillery, learning about the history of whiskey making, the distillation process, and the unique characteristics of Powerscourt’s whiskeys. Tastings are a highlight of any visit, allowing guests to sample the various expressions and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into each bottle.

Exploring County Wicklow: The Garden of Ireland

Powerscourt Estate is set within the stunning landscape of County Wicklow, often referred to as the “Garden of Ireland.” Wicklow is renowned for its natural beauty, with rolling hills, lush forests, and picturesque coastlines offering endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Wicklow Mountains National Park

Just a short distance from Powerscourt lies Wicklow Mountains National Park, a vast expanse of wilderness perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The park covers over 20,000 hectares and features diverse habitats, including mountains, forests, bogs, and lakes. Popular activities within the park include hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, and photography.

Glendalough: A Monastic Haven

Glendalough | Wicklow | Ireland | Wicklow Ireland | Things to do in Ireland | Glendalough Ireland

Another highlight of County Wicklow is Glendalough, an ancient monastic site in a glacial valley. Founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century, Glendalough is one of Ireland’s most important early Christian sites. Visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins of churches, round towers, and crosses, all set against the backdrop of the serene valley and its two lakes. The site is steeped in history and spirituality, offering a unique insight into Ireland’s early Christian heritage.

The Wicklow Way

For those who enjoy long-distance walking, the Wicklow Way is a must. This 131-kilometre trail runs from Dublin’s southern suburbs through the heart of Wicklow, passing by Powerscourt and continuing south to the village of Clonegal in County Carlow. The trail takes walkers through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Ireland, with varied terrain that includes forests, mountains, and farmland.

Conclusion

Powerscourt House and Gardens offer a timeless escape into a world of beauty, history, and tranquillity. From the Italian Garden’s grandeur to the Japanese Garden’s peacefulness, every corner of Powerscourt is designed to delight and inspire. The estate’s rich history, combined with its natural and man-made wonders, makes it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring County Wicklow and the broader region of Ireland.

Whether you’re a garden enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for a serene retreat, Powerscourt House and Gardens provides a captivating experience that lingers in the memory long after you have departed. As you wander through its enchanting landscapes, you’ll find that Powerscourt is a place to visit and cherish.

Have you ever been to Powerscourt House and Gardens? Comment below your favourite attraction in the estate! Another enchanting garden you must check in County Wicklow is the Kilmacurragh National Botanic Garden!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *