Houses & Gardens


Russborough House was designed by Richard Castle, a renowned country house designer of the 18th century, and is considered to be one of his very finest designs. The house was built in the Palladian style in 1741. The last owners were Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, who purchased Russborough in 1952 mainly to house their extensive art collection. They gifted the house and collection to the State in 1976. Most of the Beit Collection is still at Russborough, although some of the major works are now at the National Gallery of Ireland e.g. by Vermeer, Metsu, Goya. The west wing of the house was badly damaged in a fire in 2010, although all of the contents of the wing had been removed as restoration work was under way and none of the art work was burned.

The grounds of Russborough are defined by two ha-ha ditches, designed to separate the pleasure grounds from the meadows and fields where the animals grazed. The ha-ha ditch at the front of the house features two large granite obelisks as gate posts to the field. The grounds also feature a walled garden, surrounded by trees and shrubs, and the main avenue is lined with lime, beech, Scots Pine and smaller shrubs.


The Powerscourt Gardens are among the most famous in Ireland. Located in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, over 200 species of trees and shrubs, lakes, formal gardens and terraces have set the scene for many of the films produced by Ardmore Studios in Bray. Powerscourt House itself is an 18th century Palladian style building, and was home to Lord Powerscourt, uncle to the ‘uncrowned King of ireland’ Charles Stuart Parnell.


Charles Stuart Parnell was born in another of Wicklow’s famous houses, Avondale, in 1846. This Georgian House was built in 1777 and is set in an estate of 500 acres of forest parkland along the Avonmore River. Today, Avondale House is a museum dedicated to Parnell. The Avondale Forest Park has six marked trails that are very popular with walkers that lead along the river, through an extensive collection of pine and more exotic trees, and past the ruins of Parnell’s old sawmill and well. Red Squirrel, badger, stoat, hedgehog, fox and rabbits all inhabit the parkland, as well as over 90 species of bird. It was also at Avondale that the first silviculture experimental plots were laid out and has since become known as the birthplace of Irish forestry.

National Garden Exhibition Centre

The National Garden Exhibition Centre displays twenty-two diverse gardens designed by leaders in the field. Pergolas, mirrors, sculptures, stone walls, woodland and water features all play their part in the garden designs, as well as 15,000 different plants. The idea behind the development of the exhibition was to showcase the best in garden designs for a range of situations and budgets. Some of the examples of gardens are the Knot Garden, Gothic Garden, and Town Garden. The centre holds one of the largest stocks of ornamental trees and shrubs in Ireland. Garden lectures and demonstrations are regularly organised at the centre.

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