Seal Rescue Centre | co. Wexford

sea petalbaby seal

When I visited Wexford Lavender Farm with Magda and her boyfriend, they cleverly checked the stand in the café with all the leaflets of the surrounding attractions. They found one for the Seal Rescue Centre, located a few miles away from the farm. This looked too amazing to be missed, so we hit the Wexford road again and, in no time, got to the popular seaside town of Courtown (I’ll show you what the harbour looks like in a later post – edit: here is the post if you’re interested).

After a spot of lunch, we headed to the rescue centre and got a super-friendly welcome from the volunteers. We received a tour of the premises and got introduced to all the little seals on the mend. There were Anthony, Bubbles, Mr Yeat, Jenny (the master of the pool), the cutie pie Sea petal (look at her though in the first picture) and other pretties whose names escape me now. The centre was pretty busy as it takes care of all the seal pups in need all over the Republic of Ireland (and sometimes extends their help to Northern Ireland when their own centre is full). Amazed, we listened to the stories of how some of the seal pups ended up in the centre. One was found by a farmer in a middle of his field with no visible explanation as to how it ended there; or another apparently tired decided to jump on a passing boat and have a rest there.

Ireland counts among its seas 2 species of seals: the grey seal and the common seal (ironically the less common of the two). And if you ever encounter a baby seal washed ashore, the rescue centre has some steps for you to follow if you think it is in danger (you should never put it back to the sea).

seal pup in pondanthonythermometers for seal pupsseal rescue centre volunteersclose your eyes

After the introductions, we waited around for the seal pups’ afternoon snack. Volunteers follow three methods to feed their little patients, depending on their age. When they arrive to the centre, seal pups are sometimes as young as a few days and the volunteers have then act as substitute to their mother to help them survive. They will tube-feed the newborns with what they call a fish soup (blended fish). The method looks and sounds a bit traumatic, but the young seal learn to adapt quite quickly. The reason of the tube rather than a more reassuring-looking baby bottle is that the surface from where the seal pup breastfeeds from his mother is completely flat. Instinctively, they would never take a bottle’s teat. After several weeks (it takes much longer than breastfeeding as the fish soup is not as nutrient-packed as the mother seal’s milk), the volunteers will teach the pups how to feed on whole fish. During these 2 phases, the pups are being kept in kennels. Once they’re autonomous enough, they’re transfered to the pool.

feeding fish soup to seal pupsrescued seal pupcollage seal pups BWfeeding fish to seal pupsolder seal pupshousekeeping
                                                     -oh hey, fancy seeing you here!-

Top Tip: Plan your visit around the seal pups’ feeding times. The volunteers will explain and then demonstrate how they’re taking care of them.

It is important for the volunteers not to interact too much with the seals and keep them wild, especially as they’re in the pool stage, the goal is to release them to the sea as soon as they reach a healthy weight. The rescue centre has an amazing 80% success rate upon release.

If you’re ever in the area, I encourage you to pay a visit to the centre, the staff are so friendly and I think it’s good for the soul to be reminded that humans can also do awesome things for the environment. Plus, you’ll be doing a good deed as the centre relies on the prices of the tickets they sell as well as donations to function.

Word of warning, the cuteness overload may be too much to handle though.

seal rescue centre courtown

Practical Information

Seal Rescue Centre – website
Courtown Harbour

Co. Wexford

Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm (Summer) / Phone in advance (Winter)

Admission: 4€ / <3 y0 Free / Family 12€

Feeding Times: 10 am / 12 pm / 4 pm

Wexford Lavender Farm | Co. Wexford

lavender rowswoodland path & bag

Last year, I got completely obsessed with this article on Kinfolk Magazine called “Tips for Growing Peonies“. I visited the page countless times and sighed so much at the beautiful photography. I had one thought in my mind: one day, I, too, will frolic in a flower field as painfully beautiful as this peony farm in Salem, Oregon.
I wondered if there was something similar here in Ireland. Surely among all the lush greenery the island has to offer, there must be one or two flower fields open to the public. Peony, lavender, sunflower, it didn’t matter. I stored that new goal of mine in my little goldfish tank of a brain for when spring came around the corner.
Fast forward to May, I hadn’t had much luck with my research and decided to ask on Twitter if anyone could help. The ever so knowledgeable Susan from Vibrant Ireland came to the rescue and recommended the Wexford Lavender Farm, which looked like the perfect fit with its cute little café.

So last month, Magda came to pick me up and off we went to Wexford. I should probably start a series on this blog called ‘Wexford with Magda’ , she took me to so many cool places this year in the sunny county.
The lavender farm is about 1,5 hrs away from Dublin by car (a car is probably your best bet to be honest) and even though it feels like the middle of nowhere, once you left the motorway the road to it is well signed.

low-angle lavenderlavender farmlavender fieldhouse lavender field

When you get to the parking of the farm you’re met by a beautiful sea of purple and the distinctive fresh smell of lavender. The field in itself is medium-sized (2 acres), it is next to a play area for kids and a pen where 2 sheep hang out next to ducks busy having their very own pool party. Say quack?!
At the back of the field, a little sign promises woodland walks.

sheeppoppy & lavenderlavender potduckie pool

First; we headed to the café. The home-made cakes looked rather tempting and the shop was full of cute little lavender by-products but we stuck to coffee. We got cozy in the courtyard next to the little plant sale (5€ the lavender pot) and wondered how persistant the Irish sun was going to be that day. Spoiler: not very.

wexford lavender farmcafé courtyardwexford lavender farm cafésoapwoodland walkfields

We finished off our floral escapade by following the sign to the woodlands. We first crossed a bucolic barley field and once in the little forest, opted for the shortest walk (I suspect Magda and her boyfriend were trying to spare my couch potato self). It was lovely and I stocked up on so much oxygen (translate: I nearly fainted – ed.: it was a 15 min walk), and I only wished it was blackberry season as the path was bordered with so much bramble.

The farm will close in the end of September so do go frolic to your heart’s content before the lavender goes into winter mode, it makes for such a lovely day out for the family. Also, check out Magda’s post and her swooning pictures of the day!


Practical Information

Wexford Lavender Farm  – website

Co. Wexford

Opening Hours: 10.30am – 5pm (Apr – Sep) / Closed on Mondays, except Bank Holidays / Open for events on Halloween & in December, check out the farm’s website for updates

Admission: Free 

Tara’s Palace | Co. Wicklow

tara's palacetoy cabinet & view

Last month when my mum came to visit me I knew I wanted to take her to Powerscourt Gardens. I went there last year and was blown away by this beautiful estate in county Wicklow. I only had the chance to visit the gardens, so this time I made sure to head first to the first floor of Powerscourt House where the Museum of Childhood is located. I was quite eager to see Tara’s Palace with my own eyes , this giant of a doll house. 22 rooms, practically all mod cons, priceless antiques and readable miniature books, this house is every little girl’s dream come true. I wouldn’t say I’m a doll house connoisseur but I visited my fair share of toy museums and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a courtyard and a church built in a doll house. It’s that big!

guest bedroomdining & gamblingminiature floral bowldoll's house wallpaperliving roomblue bedroomgiant bathroom creeper
                                                            Bathroom creeper alert!

Tara’s Palace was modelled after 3 Irish Houses: Castletown house in county Kildare, Leinster House in Dublin and Carson House in Maynooth. It was built in the eighties to replace Titania’s palace, another huge Irish doll house built in the early 1900s which eventually got sold to Legoland Denmark. It took 20 years to build and furnished the palace you can see today in Powerscourt House. The craftmanship is astonishing, but what I liked above all is the attention to detail that sparks one’s imagination just looking through the glass. I couldn’t help making up little stories just looking at the way certain objects were displayed : the flowers soaking in the umbrella stand, the mini-slippers left in a hurry under the sink. And what is the meaning of that blue dress lavishly left at the foot of the bed? Could Tara’s walls hold its very own Hollywood drama at night?

roses in umbrella standthe blue dressmini slippersginger nuts

The museum in itself is quite small (two rooms and a little corridor where children can play) but it’s full to the brim with special little treasures. Apart from Tara’s Palace, there are a few other unusual-looking doll houses with a gothic and working-class vibe but also toy cars, a whole shelf full of teddy bears and a model cathedral.

vauxhall victor
a rare childs chairwindow view

Top tip: Don’t let all your attention be grabbed by those tiny wonders and do look out the window. There’s a breathtaking view over the gardens not to be missed! ( Do you want to see more of Powerscourt Gardens? Click here, I’ll give you a tour!)

tara's palace front

Practical Information

Tara’s Palace, Museum of Childhood – website
Powerscourt House
County Wicklow

Admission fee: Adult 5€ / Children 3€ / Concession 4€ / <5yo Free / Family 12€
NB: All profits go to Irish Children’s charities

Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm (Mon – Sat); 12 am – 5pm (Sundays & Bank Holidays)

How to get there (from Dublin): Dart to Bray, Bus 185 (the departure stop is directly outside Bray Dart Station)

Altamont Garden | co. Carlow

altamont house

Hello hello! How was your long Easter week-end? Mine was super lovely thanks for asking :) It was (mostly) sunny and great time were had outside and particularly in the ole countryside, thanks to my friend Magda who kindly took me along for a little adventure (go check her post of the day, she took fantastic pictures!).
We went to Altamont Garden, which is best known for its snowdrops but we were a bit late for those unfortunately (we actually meant to visit the garden that day we went to Wexford, but ended up being short on time). I think the best time for snowdrops is actually mid-February.
Anyways, the Altamont Garden were all-the-same breathtaking on this morning of April. The Spring flowers were in full bloom and I reckon come Summer, the roses must be as enchaning! The Altamont Garden bears the title of the most romantic garden in Ireland and I can see why, there is many a bridge to be serenaded on and nooks and cranny a-plenty if you want to whisper sweet nothings to your lover’s ears, away from prying eyes.

gardening shed altamont garden
magnolia tree and tulips altamont garden
peahen altamont house
azalea bush altamont garden
window magnolia tree altamont house
magnolia tree and lamb altamont garden

An added surprise for the animal-obsessive I am was that the place featured a good dose of cuteness, what with it being lambing season. Also present were cows and calves and a majestic peafowl couple (the peacock seemed rather aware of his charms and kept checking his reflection in a window).

peacock's reflectionplant shop altamont gardenewe and lamb fieldwalled garden altamont gardenpeacock altamont gardencow altamont garden
rose and temple altamont garden

At the back of the garden, there is a woodland area where we walked along a charming little brook that gained strength as we got closer to the River Slaney. We left the little forest and crossed a field, stopped at the temple where we admired the stunning views of the Wicklow mountains. Last stops were the gorgeous walled garden and the colourful plant shop. We rested at the café in the company of chubby hens before it was time to hit the road again.

Hope you all had an as equally pleasant Easter!

P.S.: Don’t forget to check Magda’s drool-worthy blog. You won’t regret it!

altamont house and garden

Practical Information

Altamont Garden
Bunclody Road
County Carlow

Admission: Free

Opening Hours: 9am to 7.30pm

a day in Wexford II: Hook Lighthouse

hook lighthouse
lighthouse buildings hook peninsula

After spending the morning walking on the ‘Saving Private Ryan beach‘, we headed to Wexford city for a spot of luncheon. We then decided to head further South to the Hook peninsula.
At its very tip stands the very impressive Hook lighthouse. It is one of the oldest working lighthouses in the world. It is said that the place has served as a beacon as far as the 5th century. The structure, as you can see it today, is actually 800 years old of age.
First managed by monks (you can still see the door to a chapel at the foot of the lighthouse – see picture below), it was then administered by lightouse keepers from the mid 16th century up until the 1990s. It is today remotely operated by the Commissioners of Irish light, all the way from Dun Laoghaire, Dublin… the magic of electricity!
It is how the Hook Lighthouse has now been turned into a public attraction, Lonely Planet voting it the number one lighthouse no less!

monk's chapel hook lighthouse

hook peninsula wexford
hook lighthouse & sea
hook lighthouse shop window
hook lighthouse buildings

The whole area is a feast for the eyes as when you stand at the foot of the lighthouse you can see the sea, the green countryside and the opposite shore.
We missed the last guided tour of the day by only a handful of minutes so unfortunately I didn’t get to see the view from the top of the lighthouse. I would love to go back to cross that off of my list and while I’m in the area check out Loftus Hall, the neighbour mansion which is said to be haunted!

You can read part I of my day in Wexford here.

hook lighthouse wexford

Practical Information

Hook Lighthouse
Hook Head, Fethard-On-Sea
County Wexford

Opening Hours: 9.30am to 6pm (Jun-Aug) / 9.30am to 5.30pm (May & Sep) / 9.30am to 5pm (rest of the year)

Guided Tours (grounds are free): Adults 6€ /Student & Senior 4.50€ / <5 year old Free / <16 year old 3.50€

a day in Wexford I: the Raven Reserve & Curracloe Strand

ballinesker beach curracloe strand

How was your week post Paddy’s day? Any memorable walk of Seamus? Hope you all had good fun! I was wondering how I could celebrate the occasion, I even thought about attending Dublin’s parade for a minute even though I’m not fond of crowds… Luckily my good friend came to the rescue and invited me to a little day trip in County Wexford. It was the perfect way to celebrate Ireland. I actually never went to Sunny Wexford. I was even dubious of the county’s nickname but the sun shone bright that afternoon and it felt great to get away from the city and discover a new part of the country.

Our first port of call was Curracloe which is famous for being the location of the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan.

the raven nature reserve
pine forest + path to the sea raven reserve

We walked the coastal circuit, the whole 6 miles (10km) of it. It took about 2 hours. We started with the Raven Reserve. It is a beautiful pine forest where locals come to walk their dogs or run. It is supposed to be a good place for seeing birds and the Red Squirrel but I can’t say I saw anything. I suspect that it is easier with patience and a pair of binoculars.

bird reserve curracloe
curracloe strand
dunes curracloe strand
birds curracloe strand

The forest path leads to a grassy patch of the coast, which is another part of the bird reserve. There was a group of black birds of some sort on a sand island (see the black dots in the above picture) but couldn’t really make out what they were. I read as well that the beach is a good spot for seal-sighting.

Ballinesker Beach was picked as a location for Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan for its ressemblance to Omaha Beach in Normandy. Just like the French beach, it is a beautiful stretch of sand and I can imagine it to be a great place to spend the few Irish Summer days. But I have to commend the local kids as they were already enjoying the waves in the middle of March! Brr!

I had the loveliest start to the day, tune in this Sunday to see what other parts of Wexford I visited that week-end!

ballinesker  beach

Practical information

The Raven Reserve / Curraloe Strand / Ballinesker Beach – link
10 miles (6km) – take about 2 hours to complete the circuit
Bus: Bus Eireann 379 (Mondays & Saturdays)


trim castle meath ireland

A mere 45 minute car journey from Dublin, you’ll find one of the most famous castles in Ireland, heck the world! If this imposing building looks familiar, this is no coincidence as Trim Castle was the star alongside Mel Gibson in Braveheart.
Standing next to its walls, you’ll sure feel small and images of epic battles will start to crowd your mind. Trim Castle played a major role in the Norman invasion of Ireland. It took 30 years in the 12th century for Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath, to build this fortress, making it the largest Cambro-Norman Castle in Ireland. No wonder it served as the Norman centre of administration, as its monumental walls would have disheartened the bravest of warriors.

Today, Trim Castle seems lightyears from this bloody page of history as tourists and locals alike wander about in the surrounding greenery. The quaint little town at its foot is equally worth a nosing around. You’ll be enchanted by the cute cottages’ pastel facades; and the pubs decorated with massive geranium pots serve as the cosiest shelters against the drizzle and the fog.

Whatever you do, don’t miss out on petting some cute donkeys! You’ll find them in a field further down the river Boyne, let yourself guide by the heehaws!

trim castle meath ireland
trim castle meath ireland trim castle meath ireland trim castle meath ireland trim castle meath ireland trim castle meath ireland trim castle meath ireland trim castle meath ireland donkeys trim castle meath ireland

Practical Information

Trim, County Meath (map)
Bus from Dublin: Bus Eireann 111
Castle Admission: Adult 4€/ Senior 2€/ Child, Student 3€ / Family 10€
Castle Opening Hours: Nov-Jan, Weekends only, 9am – 5pm / Feb-15 March, Weekends only, 9.30am – 5.30pm / 16 March – 30 Sep, Daily, 10am – 6pm / Oct, Daily, 9.30am – 5.30pm
The Castle is closed the weekend before Christmas and before New Year’s eve.