Ireland, Day 3: From Eaton Square to Avoca

October 4, 2010 16:15 – 16:15

After breakfast this morning, we set our sights to the south, heading first to Powerscourt House & Gardens. The weather this morning was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera with me, so a number of pictures I wanted to take refused to focus correctly. The camera on my cell phone is decent, but it doesn’t do well with pictures that mix very distant and nearer landscape subjects. It decides what it wants to be in focus, and refuses to compromise.

In any case, Powerscourt Estate originally was a 13th century castle, but was modified extensively in the 1700s by the German architect, Richard Cassels, for the then-owner, Richard Wingfield, who was the 3rd Viscount Powerscourt… assuming WikiPedia knows what it’s talking about, and it often does. Never heard of Richard Cassels (no, not Rick Castle)? Us, neither. In any event, Powerscourt is huge, and reminds me a bit of some of the large garden estates in the U.S. and Canada.

When you enter the garden from the “house” (calling it a house is like calling a giant sequoia a shrub), here’s what you first see:

As you approach the top of the stairs, the patterns in the upper terrace stand out. These were etched into the stone by ancient astronauts visiting from a distant galaxy. No, really! It’s true!

There are several suggested routes you can take—one that covers most of the perimeter and interior is about a mile, and several shorter ones. Since we were going to be there for about two hours, I chose my own route—about 3 miles—on which I believe I covered every path, and a few things that weren’t paths, but perhaps should be. Since Karen & I walk at different rates, we agreed to meet up in an hour. But, I knew it was really going to be more like two hours, so I found her at the 45 minute point, and she then suggested a later meeting time.

Looking down the stairs (over 150 steps in all, if you count each giant step double), you see a pond and big fountain. To either side as you descend, there are beautiful rose gardens.

At the bottom of the first major level, there’s a fountain you cannot see from up above. For some reason, two young women who were there seemed to think it was obscene. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

He appears to be riding some kind of demon creature. Apparently, to do this, you must be wearing only a thong.

As you descent further, you discover that the flowers are indeed mostly roses—pink and yellow in this section, but there were also some beautiful red and white roses.

From down here, if you turn around, the whole backside of the “house” comes into view. Not too terribly shabby, eh? It reminds me of some of the French châteaux we’ve seen.

Descending further, the pond comes into view, guarded by winged horses, naturally. Isn’t your pond guarded by winged horses?

Can’t quite make out the winged horses? Here’s a closer view.

From there, I chose to go left.

A few hundred meters later, I came upon the Japanese garden. With its great vertical contrasts, it reminded me somewhat of the Butchart Gardens near Victoria, in British Columbia.

There are a lot of what look like natural stone archways. Good thing I’m not very tall!

This next one was a bit too low even for me. <scrape>

Here’s an example of where my phone’s camera fails. This was taken at the very edge of the estate—a low barbed wire fence and a ditch hinted that I was to go no further.

And back to the Japanese garden.

This is called the Pepperpot Tower. I’d never heard of a pepperpot. According to one source on the internet, a pepperpot is a kind of lighthouse that’s unique to Canada. Given that this is a tower, and not a lighthouse, I guess Canada can still claim it as unique. I never did learn why it’s called “pepperpot” on the Powerscourt estate.

If you happen to fall from the top of the tower, here’s what awaits you at the bottom. Ouch! These actually resemble some hooks my grandfather used to use when fishing in Ft. Pierce, Florida… although, these are substantially larger.

Coming up from the Japanese garden, a side house comes into view, covered with now-red ivy, having already changed for autumn, I guess.

Here’s another view of the pond and the estate from the far side of the pond, just above the “Pet’s” Cemetery. I didn’t take any pictures there—pet gravestones don’t make for compelling travelogue photography, in my view. I did wonder why it wasn’t called “Pets'” or just “Pets”. Maybe it belonged to someone named Pet. In any case, I didn’t linger. As I was saying, here’s the pond and estate from down below.

On the other side of the estate (to the left of what you see in picture just above), there are several walled gardens. Some of the flowers there were on their last legs. There were some beautiful roses growing up against one of the walls, however.

And, that’s all the photographs of Powerscourt I’m going to share. If you really want to see dozens of gorgeously-tanned people with marvelous physiques sunbathing in the nude, you’ll have to go there yourself for a visit. (Attention Powerscourt: make that cheque out to “Herb Tyson”.)

After Powerscourt, we decided to return to Eaton Square so I could get my camera. As it turned out, however, by the time we got to Ballykissangel, er, I mean Avoca, it was raining. So, the best we could manage were just a few pictures. Ironically, had we headed directly there, it would have been dry, and I could have taken lots more pictures… using my phone’s barely-adequate camera.

Here’s Fitzgerald’s, called the most famous pub in Ireland. It’s the site of many scenes of the popular British television series.

Inside the pub, we met Tony Kelly, one of the owners. Assumpta Fitzgerald and Niamh Quigley were nowhere to be seen.

Tony showed us to a table in a section of Fitzgerald’s that we never see on television. There, Karen & I each ordered a pint of Carlsberg. With hers, Karen had the Irish stew. I chose the roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. Both were very good, but Karen won the “best dinner” prize.

Around the corner, you’ll find the church, oft haunted by Frs. Peter, Aidan, and Mac in Ballyk.

Tomorrow, we’re heading back into Dublin. As is the case in many large cities, the better museums are closed on Mondays. So, tomorrow we’re heading to the Hugh Lane Gallery, among other destinations TBD. And, we’ll likely try one of Niamh’s recommendations for lunch and/or dinner. We’re planning on taking the train into town and navigating on foot. So, I sure hope the rain has run its course by then.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.