On a day trip to Wicklow – located 30 or so miles outside Dublin – you'll discover 40 shades of green in the Irish countryside.
The countryside is green and gorgeous, and it may even look familiar to you. This area has been part of many movies, including Excalibur, Michael Collins, Braveheart, Leap Year, King Arthur, Reign of Fire, Becoming Jane, P.S. I Love You, The Tudors and many more.
A perfect day trip includes exploring the grounds of Killruddery House and Gardens, which have been in use since the 17th century, walking in the “monastic city” of Glendalough and eating at The Hollywood Inn.
Explore Killruddery House and Gardens — Photo courtesy of Killruddery House and Gardens
Getting to Wicklow
A pleasant hour-and-a-half drive from Dublin center or Dublin airport will bring you to the county of Wicklow. You can choose to arrive by ferry at either Dun Laoghaire or Rosslare.
Wicklow is also accessible by train; the Wicklow/Rosslare train route has several daily trains with mulitiple stations along the East Coast: Bray, Greystones, Kilcoole, Wicklow Town, Rathdrum and Arklow.
You'll be visiting the Mid-East region in the province of Leinster.
Killruddery House and Gardens
At Killruddery House and Gardens, tour the house and gardens, which has been lived in by 16 generations of the Brabazon family. It's still in use today, in fact.
The gardens at Killruddery date back to the 17th century; they were originally designed for the entertainment of large parties.
Adjacent to the house, The Orangery was designed and built by William Burns in 1852 and inspired by the Crystal Palace in London.
The favorite family tiara was sold to create this area, and the crenellations surrounding the dome were based on the design of this tiara.
Explore the incredible book collection in the library. Enjoy the clock made by the earl, created with found objects including a table top, a copper pot, a bed warmer and a bike chain.
Inside The Orangery, you can also view the collection of marble statues brought back from a grand tour of Italy from 1830 to 1850 by the 11th earl, including several classical sculptures and busts of Napoleon, Socrates, William Pitt and Wellington.
The original Hollywood Inn from 1790! — Photo courtesy of Lisa Ellen Niver
The Hollywood Inn
The Hollywood Inn originally opened in 1790 as a stage coach stop. It's rumored that the people from this town eventually went to California to start Hollywood! Maybe that's why Wicklow is home to so many films?
This makes a perfect stop for lunch during your Wicklow day trip.
The homemade soup of the day is always excellent; it could be vegetable, potato and leek, tomato, mushroom or carrot and coriander. Try the fish and chips or the cottage pie.
They often feature live music for Father's Day, New Year's Eve and other special occasions. Get ready to celebrate with specials like fillet steak, with beer-battered onion rings, home-cut chips and peppercorn sauce; pan-fried fresh fish with mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables; and, to top it all off, moist homemade chocolate and orange cake.
Next on the itinerary is the early Christian “monastic city” of Glendalough, situated in Wicklow Mountains National Park, one of six national parks in Ireland.
This famous early Christian monastic settlement was first established by St. Kevin in the sixth century. The celtic monastery chapel built outside the cathedral is older than St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin!
The prominent Round Tower in the cemetery is nearly 100 feet (30 meters) high, and the entrance is about 11 feet (3.5 meters) from the base. It is possible that the tower was a landmark for visitors, a store-house or a place of refuge in times of attack. What do you think?
The early Christian monastic city of Glendalough — Photo courtesy of Lisa Ellen Niver