Powerscourt Gardens | co. Wicklow

pegasus powerscourtiron garden gate

I visited Powerscourt Estate for the first time last year after a long and cold Irish winter that coincided with a long and dark season in my personal life. It was April and I was starting to wonder if it will be sunny ever again. It looked pretty bleak, it even snowed the week before.
But somehow, the miracle of Spring happened again and as sun rays pierced the thick clouds, I decided to finally visit that place I had heard so much about. Lonely Planet listed Powerscourt as one of the greatest houses and this year National Geographic voted it the third best garden in the world.
Pretty impressive, right? Those titles are definitely not unearned, the estate brought back some needed magic in my life. It made me realise that I have all those amazing places practically on my doorstep and I needed to start exploring, look for my Spring and stop waiting for it (which is a message I’m trying to convey through this blog, everyone’s backyard is worth exploring).

powerscourt housepowerscourt statues
powerscourt house + sugar loafjapanese garden
fountain powerscourt
iron chairspink azalea

Powerscourt Estate goes back as far as the 13th century and has been a work in progress over the years. Today, when you visit the estate, you’re met with an impressive mansion holding an array of shops that boast beautiful Irish design and craft within its walls. If you’re in the market for gifts, souvenirs and local delicacies to bring home, this is a brilliant place to shop as you have so much choice on hand. Not an Irish product but I was super excited to see that the shop Avoca stocks some of Rifle Paper Co‘s divine stationary.

On the first floor, you will find Tara’s Palace, one of the greatest doll’s house in the world, in the Childhood Museum. Click here to read about my visit there.

The terrace café is a lovely place to have a slice of cake (or two) as the views on the Wicklow Mountains are stunning. Outside you’ll be met with the beautiful Italian Gardens and a panoramic view over the estate. There is so much to explore: Japanese gardens, a pet cemetery, a walled garden, a greenhouse, the Pepperpot tower, a deerpark and the highest waterfall in Ireland.

french gardens
gilded garden gate
flower parterre
powerscourt house + mountains
wicklow mountains powerscourt

Did you know?: Stanley Kubrick filmed Barry Lyndon in Powerscourt House. Powerscourt has actually been used as a filming location many times, check out IMDB for the full list.

My favourite part was the walled garden, not surprisingly, and especially the gilded iron gates which reminded of pictures I saw of Versailles’s gates.
Although I’ve been to Powerscourt twice already, I’ve quite a bit left to explore. There’s the pet cemetery, it might sound weird but the stones’ epitaphs are said to be heart-warming (I kind of avoided it last time as my dog had recently passed away and I was worried to lose it); and also the waterfall and the deerpark.
This time, I’ll do a favour to myself and not wait for Spring to visit Powerscourt again.


powerscourt estate

Practical Information

Powerscourt Estate – website
Co. Wicklow

Check out their website for the events programme

Opening Times: 9.30am – 5.30pm; During Winter, gardens close at dusk
Closed on December 25th & 26th

Admission Fee: Adults 8.50€ / Studens, OAP 5 € / Children < 16yo 3.50€ / Children <2yo Free

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

More information on the Waterfalls and Tara’s Palace, Museum of Childhood

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)

Pieces from the Grand Budapest Hotel in Dublin

annie atkins exhibition grand budapest hotel lighthouse cinema
lighthouse cinema cafe

If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson’s cinematographic worlds, you really need to go the Light House Cinema in Smithfield ASAP. There is something quite special awaiting you at the back of the cinema’s little café. There, inside two glass displays lay beautiful props from The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson’s latest release. You will find the already iconic Mendl’s pastry boxes, a bottle of champagne and Madame D.’s last will among other treasures.

The Grand Budapest Hotel book cover wes anderson
telegram serge grand budapest hotel wes anderson
prison map grand budapest hotel wes anderson
romantic poetry book cover grand budapest hotel wes anderson
oberstdorf madame d grand budapest hotel wes anderson

They were born under the hand of Annie Atkins, who was the lead graphic designer on the film. She is Dublin-based and kindly loaned her own copies to the Light House cinema so Wes Anderson fans can marvel at the intricate details that brought the fictititious empire of Zubrowka to life. She was responsible for everything paper in the film (telegrams, correspondence, passports, maps, currency, books, labels, reports, etc) and created the very hotel signage that you can see on the film poster as well.
Under Wes Anderson’s precise supervision, she drew influences from Ernst Lubitsch’s films and 1930s Germany to shape up Grand Budapest’s pink world.

mendl's box grand budapest hotel wes anderson
madame d grand budapest hotel wes anderson
agatha visa grand budapest hotel wes anderson
zubrowka stamps grand budapest hotel wes anderson

If you needed any more proof that Wes Anderson is a firm believer of ‘God is in the details’, The exhibition ‘A Brief Survey of Graphic Design from the Empire of Zubrowka (1932-1968)’ is for you. Nothing is left half-done, to the point where Wes Anderson wrote himself the articles in the fictitious newspaper The Trans-Alpine Yodel, knowing that no one would even read them. Well that is not totally true, is it? As you can do so now in the Light House Cinema.

lighthouse cinema grand budapest hotel poster

Practical Information

Annie Atkins Exhibition, from the 7th to the 24th of March 2014 (edit 25/03/14: extended until 31 March)
Light House Cinema
Market Square
Dublin 7


Luas: Smithfield
Bus: 37, 39, 70, 83 
Entrance: Free

Showtimes for The Grand Budapest Hotel at the Light House Cinema


trim castle 8
trim castle 2

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 7
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trim castle 1
trim castle 13
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trim castle 15

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.