IRELAND

DUBLIN

City Centre

When walking through the city centre I was struck by the colourful window boxes and hanging baskets filled with petunias and pelargoniums.

The baskets were packed with an enormous number of plants that would continue to flower during the summer months and get so big that the displays almost reach the pavement (or so I was told!). The baskets themselves were very large. The most essential requirement for hanging baskets is water. Hanging baskets have been described as clothes on a clothesline; blowing in the wind means that they dry out very fast.  To ensure good blooms the compost must be kept moist needing daily watering  – much work, but  ………..         A JOY TO BEHOLD!

Saint Stephen’s Green

St Stephen’s Green is a city centre public park in Dublin. It is located in the centre of Dublin at the top of Grafton Street. The current landscape of the park was designed by William Sheppard. It was officially opened to the public in July 1880.

At 22 acres it is the largest of the parks in Dublin’s main Georgian garden squares. The park has been maintained in the original Victorian layout with extensive tree and shrub planting and spectacular spring and summer Victorian bedding. The herbaceous border also provides colour from early spring to late autumn.   One of the more unusual aspects of the park lies on the North West corner of this central area – a garden for the blind with scented plants, which can withstand handling, and are labelled in Braille.

Spanning much of the length of the park is a large lake. Home to ducks and other water fowl, the lake is fed by an artificial water fall. It is spanned by O’Connell Bridge, and has  an ornamental gazebo. Over 3.5 km of pathways are accessible for all users. A number of sculptures are located throughout the green.

Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle is the signature symbol of the mediaeval city.

Kilkenny Castle has been an important site since Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, commonly known as Strongbow constructed the first castle, probably a wooden structure, in the 12th century. The first stone castle on the site, was completed in 1213. This was a square-shaped castle with towers at each corner; three of these original four towers survive to this day. Kilkenny Castle later became the principal Irish residence of the powerful Butler family for almost 600 years. The Butler ownership began when James (c.1360-1405), 3rd Earl of Ormond, purchased the castle in c.1391, and lasted until 1967 when Arthur, 6th Marquess of Ormonde (1893-1971), presented it to the people of Kilkenny in return for a token payment of £50.  Shortly afterward it was handed over to the State, and has since been refurbished and is open to visitors. There are ornamental gardens on the city side of the castle, and extensive land and gardens to the front. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland.

Avoca, County Wicklow

Avoca is situated in the beautiful vale of Avoca and County Wicklow is known as The Garden of Ireland.   This pretty little village is the home of Avoca Handweavers where we were able to watch the weavers at work.

Avoca Handweavers is a clothing manufacturing, retail and food business. It is the oldest working woollen mill in Ireland and one of the world’s oldest manufacturing companies. It is also Ireland’s oldest surviving business.   The mill on the banks of the fast-flowing River Avoca survives from at least 1723.

The pristine property is delightful and is  surrounded by a garden where one can wander. On the day that I was there the sun was shining brightly and it certainly was the time to stop and smell the roses.

The BBC TV drama was centred here in the fictional village of Ballykissangel until 2001

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