The Best of Irish Country Estates: Powerscourt House and Gardens

Ireland is referred to as The Emerald Isle because of its seemingly endless expanses of verdant trees, deep woods, and rolling green hills. County Wicklow is called the Garden of Ireland, and 47 of the county’s best acres are home to the Powerscourt House and Gardens.

A long and noble history

The Powerscourt site was first settled in the 12th century, but it was not until 1299 that a castle was finally erected by the namesake Power family.

The castle and lands changed hands numerous times over the next four centuries. The Wingfield family was in possession in 1731 and built a magnificent mansion around the earlier castle structure.

The existing manor evolved through several major modifications up through the late 1800s when the house was celebrated as one of the finest in all of Ireland.

In 1974, a fire tragically destroyed the famous house. The ruins of the mansion were the only structures to be seen at the site for the next 22 years.

The grand rebuild

In 1996, the owners of the Powerscourt House began the monumental task of rebuilding the old mansion to its current state of renewed grandeur.

Artisans situated new windows exactly in pre-fire locations. The entire structure was painstakingly and lovingly restored. Every effort was made to preserve the remarkable old building’s earlier epoch.

Today, tourists visiting Ireland can enjoy the authentic and historic Powerscourt House and Gardens, a true Irish country estate that is simply awe-inspiring. The magnificent house was recently recognized as one of the top ten important houses in the world, and the gardens were voted number 3 best in the world by National Geographic.

The elegant main house overlooks kingly Italian terraced gardens, the serene Triton Lake fountain and grotto, and numerous old statuary – many dating back to the early 18th century.

An easy walk on estate grounds will take you to a Japanese garden, a horse pasture, and a centuries old pet cemetery as well as an exquisite walled flower garden.

The River Walk

Just beyond the Powerscourt house is the River Walk. A private sloping wooded trail constructed in 1867 so the landowner and his family could enjoy a carriage ride to a waterfall and the Dargle River. The waterfall is the tallest in Ireland and cascades down almost 400 feet to the river.

The road is complete with a dense forest of varietal trees originally planted for the pleasure of the 7th Viscount of Powerscourt in the 1870s. In more recent times, the woodlands have provided scenic backdrops for such popular films as Braveheart, Far and Away, Excalibur, and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Village of Enniskerry

Just a few minutes’ walk outside the Powerscourt Estate lies the charming little Victorian village of Enniskerry.

Built in the 18th century to house the tenants and caretakers who worked the estate, this classically Irish community offers tourists an opportunity to dine in local restaurants and browse a half-dozen boutique shops that line the main street.

Texas Tourism Is Booming: This Is Why

The United States is a country that is going through a bit of a rough patch right now, and with any period of trials & tribulation come dips in how much people want to travel. Even with what seems to be a lack of enthusiasm for traveling in this great country, Texas tourism seems to be weathering the storm better than even the most grizzled travel experts could have predicted. The question is simple – why? How is it that the Lone Star State is able to maintain a steady movement of travelers across its borders when other states are seeing lulls?

It’s best to think of the Texas tourism boom as more than just a current blip. In fact, the campaign to make Texas a premier destination for out-of-towers has been in full-swing since the 1960s. At the time, Texas was seen as nothing more than a relic of the Old West, and it certainly didn’t help that there was a presidential assassination in Dallas in 1963. Times were tough for the state, and even its own residents were seeking greener pastures.

Finally, an organization named the Texas Tourist Development Agency was created with the sole purpose of making Texas seem like place to be. With only a little over $100,000 in the mid 1960s, the agency got to work. By 1970, tourism numbers had begun to skyrocket, and revenue had broken a billion dollars.

Since then, the agency has been absorbed by other offices in state government, but Texas’s tourism boom still holds steady, and when you step back & look at things, you can understand why. For starters, Texas is very business-friendly. Generous tax breaks and subsidies have attracted some of the biggest brands on the national, and international, scene. This migration of businesses into Texas has certainly made its mark. For example, in the last decade, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex was second only to New York City in terms of the amount of construction for retail, warehouse, office, and rental spaces. Real estate, retail, and economic experts not only noted the historic length of the boom in Dallas/Fort Worth, but they were also in agreement that there was no slowing down anytime soon.

The jump in businesses making their home in Texas has meant better job numbers for both residents and non-residents. The uptick in employment numbers usually positively impacts the retail markets, too.

Perhaps the neatest reason Texas has found itself so high on the list of satisfying places to visit, or call home, is that no matter where you are, you can always find a hidden gem of a town with a lot of hospitality and charm to offer. Moreover, you’re not really more than a day-trip’s distance from the major cities of Texas (e.g., Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio), and with hundreds of thousands of miles of roadways, Texas is the ultimate road-trip destination.

Texas tourism is certainly seeing a new era of explosion, but in reality, the Lone Star State has been on the rise for the better part of six decades. All this means for you and your family is that when you decide to visit, you’ll be right on time.