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.

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Golf in Palmas Del Mar, Puerto Rico

With two championship golf courses to choose from, and both offering panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, the golf facilities at the Palmas del Mar Resort are a treat for any avid golf enthusiast. Designed by Reese Jones – an acclaimed golf course architect, the Flamboyan Course opened in 1998, and is the longer of the two courses at 7,117 yards and regarded as the finest and top rated layout in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

The course is appointed with a plethora of memorable, wonderfully crafted challenging holes that are most definitely worth exploring. Fairways of the course unleash alongside a 20-acre freshwater lake, some bordering the Caribbean Sea while others intersecting the Candelero River. The 12th hole of the Flamboyan golf course is a solid par three that requires a skillful blow to reach a raised green that is tucked away behind a canal complete with a backdrop of the breathtaking backdrop of the Island of Vieques.

Regarded as the longest and most challenging golf course in the Caribbean, the Flamboyan golf course has received several accolades ever since its inception, most notably the Best Course award by Barron’s Magazine and Golf Digest award for Best Golf Course in Puerto Rico.

Opened in 1974 and originally designed by champion golfer Gary Player, the Palm is the smaller of the two courses at the Palmas del Mar beach resort, but is no less a challenge than its sister course the Flamboyan. The course features tree lined fairways and undulated greens, and is made challenging and interesting by the sand traps, tropical roughs and the strategically placed bunkers. To succeed on the Palm golf course requires superior accuracy off the tree, which is often a challenge for even seasoned golfers.

Holes 14 and 16 of the Palm golf course provide unobstructed views of the Caribbean Sea, giving players an excellent opportunity to experience the wonders of nature. In addition to the two golf courses, the golf facilities at the Palmas del Mar resort include a double ended driving range, two practice greens, an exciting junior program, practice clinics for all levels of golfers, all overlooked by two golf professionals.

Spread across an expansive 40,000 square feet, the clubhouse at the golf facilities offers a mix of recreation and resort and is complete with the Golf Shop, members lounge, restaurant and day time grill and even a covered patio. Furthermore, the clubhouse also provides locker rooms for both ladies and gentlemen, and separate locker facilities for resort guests along with a massage and bag storage room.