Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mount Usher Gardens Again

Back in Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co Wicklow which is open from March to end of October and is home to a collection of more than 5,000 trees and shrubs.

In the latter part of the 19th century, there was a great fashion for importing exotic plant species from all parts of the globe and, thanks to the more naturalistic approach to planting here in Mount Usher, they are displayed in what seems like their native habitat.

The gardens started in the 1860's when Edward Walpole took over the lease and was developed over two further generations until taken over by Mrs Madeleine Jay in 1980 who insisted on gardening all 22 acres entirely organically and, since 2007, is now run by Avoca, the Irish retail company.

Several different walks and paths around the gardens are suggested and depend very much on the time one has to spare - the Woodland Garden and The Island are rather special and have many interesting specimens - and it's somewhere to revisit as the seasons change, spring with the 150 different species of rhododendrons and azaleas, lilies and Eucryphia in summer and, of course, the spectacular colours of autumn.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mount Usher Gardens

This visit to Mount Usher Gardens, Ashord, Co Wicklow is one post I just had to fit in before Autumn was over, but even so, Spring, Summer and Autumn each would have their different attractions in these wonderful 22 acres of gardens laid out in the Robinsonian style of free flowing informality and natural design on the banks of the Vartry River.

Time for quiet contemplation in this area pictured left which is not in the gardens - this is the garden cafe open area, outside!


Careful on the suspension bridges, as you take in the waterfalls and views along the garden stretch of the Vartry River.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Isabella's Gone

Back in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow and the Garden Of Ireland Vintage Car Club are off on their 2nd annual run, heading out into the Wicklow Mountains, on this the first of a two day jaunt, and, above,  led by this gorgeous hardtopped MGA Roadster, followed not far behind by the Morgan we pictured yesterday.

Right, a fond farewell to Enniskerry from the '49 Triumph 2000 Roadster.

The 911 Turbo, to this day, continues to boss everything in it's wake, especially the Young Pretender, the Boxster, parked behind on the side of the street and partially obscured.

And somehow, during all of the departures, we managed to miss the Borgward Isabella Coupe!

Monday, September 27, 2010


So today we renew our acquaintance with dear Isabella, dressed on this occasion in delectable shades of green and perfectly blending, Saturday morning last, with the leafy surrounds of the beautiful village of Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

Now, gentlemen, let's not get carried away - we are gathered here at the Powerscourt Arms Country House for the Garden of Ireland Vintage Car Club's 2nd Annual Garden of Ireland Run departing from Enniskerry and heading through Glencree and on to Blessington and from there back to Woodenbridge, for some overnight fun, and finishing up with a short run to the Glenview Hotel in Glen of the Downs on Sunday.

All right, I can't deny, my favourite is the Borgward Isabella Coupe but what about the Morgan 4-4 2 Seater Sports above left or the beautifully maintained '51 Morris Oxford, right and especially the classic Porsche Speedster pictured below.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bray Promenade

Enjoying a bracing walk along the promenade on a bright but cold day, your blogger team came across these well supervised kids having great fun in the rough and blustery conditions on the seafront at Bray, Co Wicklow.

The promenade and seafront in Bray, which is the largest town in County Wicklow, attracts large crowds during the summer season, when there's good weather of course, but from now onwards it quietens down, just like any other seaside resort, but it's still a nice place for a stroll at any time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Wexford Mummers

Now you may well say that this is a Wicklow and not a Wexford blog, but the Wexford Mummers did a star turn at the Carnew Heritage Day in Carnew, Co Wicklow on Sunday last and therefore qualify for inclusion in this esteemed blog by way of association.

So, what is this Mumming?  Now very rare in Ireland and concentrated largely in Co Wexford, Mummers combine dancing, mime and pageantry, much as was performed in medieval times. The rhythmic beating of wooden swords against each other is a feature of the entertainment.

Up to twelve participants are called-on by their Captain and each has a long rhyming introduction describing the circumstances and deeds of the character which he represents. Each has a ‘sword’ like a flat wooden ruler about two feet long. In two lines they go into an intricate step-dance accompanied by fast clashing of the swords. Teams dress alike in sashes like baldrics, and special hats.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Arthur's Day 2010

Today is Arthur's Day and we are ensconced in that famous Wicklow Town watering hole, The Leitrim Lounge, in order to raise a glass in his honour!

And just to quote the official word: "Established in 2009 during Guinness's 250-year anniversary, Arthur's Day is a series of events and celebrations taking place around the world to celebrate the life and legacy of Arthur Guinness and the much-loved Guinness® beer which Arthur brought to the world."

So that's the only excuse we need! Today, the worldwide celebrations commence at the appropriate hour, 17:59, i.e. right in the middle of cocktail hour, and looking around me in The Leitrim Lounge, everyone is treating the event very seriously indeed!  Now, for the cynical mind out there, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the price of a pint of Guinness has been reduced, for the occasion, down to €2.50 - that is serious!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Carnew Heritage Day II

We're back in Carnew, Co Wicklow for another look at the Vintage Working Day, organised by Carnew Heritage Club.

Left, the guys from Carnew Heritage Club demonstrate how to dismantle a vintage Ferguson tractor in 15 minutes using only a single Ferguson spanner. And then, they have to put it back together!

Look and learn - these kids are engrossed in the sheep shearing demonstration.

Below, fond memories.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Carnew Heritage Day

Sunday last, we criss-crossed the county from our base outside Wicklow Town to the rally in Russborough House near Blessington and then on to Carnew on the Wicklow/Wexford border for the Carnew Heritage Working Day.

Organised by Carnew Heritage Club, it was a fun packed day with something for everyone -  Vintage ploughing, harvesting and threshing; vintage steam engines, tractors, trucks and machinery; sheep shearing and even some music!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rally At Russborough

Blessington Vintage Car & Motorcycle Club held their autumn rally on Sunday last, meeting at beautiful Russborough House, Blessington, Co Wicklow on what was a dark and murky morning but much uplifted by the stately surroundings and the spectacle of the motors assembled there, many of which came from the U.K..

Now, your intrepid blogger just happened to be there to witness this gathering  prior to attending a morning tour of the aforementioned house at a cost of €10.  And, no, I can't offer you photos - no photography allowed inside this house!  I wonder could they have a security problem?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Insurgents

 Concluding our brief historical tour of the Glenmalure Valley, Co Wicklow, we're near the Barravore Ford, where we find monuments to the 1798 Rebellion and the romantic insurgents led by Michael Dwyer who held out in this area for nearly six years after the uprising had been suppressed.
Thinking that he was surrendering on his own terms, Dwyer was led to believe that he would be granted passage to the fledgling United States of America. However, once the authorities had their man, they ignored the terms that were agreed and imprisoned him in Kilmainham Gaol along with some of his men.  Michael Dwyer was held there for some eighteen months before being sent to the penal colony of Botany Bay in Australia.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Battle Of Glenmalure

The wild and beautiful valley of Glenmalure is today a centre for hill walking, canoeing, and all things outdoors, but it's also steeped in history.

The Battle of Glenmalure took place here in 1580 during the Desmond Rebellions. An Irish Catholic force of some 600 men made up of the Gaelic clans from the Wicklow Mountains led by Fiach MacHugh O'Byrne and James Eustace, Viscount Baltinglas, defeated an English army under Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton, at the O'Byrne's mountain stronghold in Glenmalure. Grey led his force of 3,000 men, mostly inexperienced recruits, into the valley and when attempting to scale the northern slopes of the valley, were ambushed by the rebels who were hidden in the undergrowth on both sides and in front.  The English recruits were overwhelmed by the ferocity of the rebels' attack and their eventual retreat resulted in the massacre of almost 800 of Grey's men.

Commemorating the battle, the folk song 'Follow Me Up To Carlow', particularly notable as one of the most graphically violent of all Irish folk songs, was performed by, amongst many others, the folk band Planxty.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

As It Should Be

Today we're deep in the Wicklow Mountains in the beautiful and remote Glenmalure valley, southwest of Glendalough.  The longest glacier valley in the British Isles, Glenmalure is extremely rugged and wild, and was the scene of several battles over the centuries.

Gaelic clansmen defeated an English force here in 1272.  Another led by King Richard II passed through here in 1399 in pursuit of Art Mor McMorrough but were continually harassed by the clansmen who simply disappeared into the deep forests.  Eventually, the King's knights and foot soldiers, decimated and starving, made their way to Arklow where ships awaited to take them and their doomed monarch back to England.

So we make our way past the last outpost of civilisation, The Glenmalure Lodge, and head straight through the Drumgoff crossroads and continue along the lane, savouring the breathtaking scenery on either side of the valley all the way to the dead end at Barravore.  All further progress is entirely on foot, and this is as it should be!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Man, It's Organic!

There's always a buzz in the air when you pass The Happy Pear, natural food market, in the seaside town of Greystones, Co Wicklow, weather permitting that is. 

Today, actually, a couple of weeks ago, we're serenaded by this jazz player as we down our wheatgrass shots and comtemplate their upcoming Happy Heart Program.

Below left is The Happy Pear's next door neighbour, A Caviston, fishmonger, delicatessen and café.

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