Wicklow is a miracle. Although the booming presence of Dublin is right next door, this spectacularly lovely county is very much its own place, an away-from-it-all world of moorland and mountain, farmland and garden, forest and lake, seashore and river. It's all right there, just over the nearest hill, yet it all seems so gloriously different.
In times past, the official perception of Wicklow – as seen from the viewpoint of the authorities in Dublin Castle – was the complex story of mountain strongholds where rebels and hermits alike could keep their distance from the capital. But modern Wicklow has no need to be in a state of rebellion, for it is an invigorating and inspiring place which captivates everyone who lives there, so much so that while many of its citizens inevitably work in Dublin, they're Wicklow people first, and associate Dubs - if at all - an extremely long way down the line.
Their attitude is easily understood, for even with today's traffic, it is only a short drive on notably handsome roads to transform your world from the crowded city streets right into the heart of some of the most beautiful scenery in all Ireland. This building of roads into Wicklow was a Dublin thing. One of the most scenic in the country – the old Military Road along the top of the hills to the Sally Gap – was originally built for the enforcement of rule from Dublin Castle Today, it is one of Wikclow’s assets, as is the elegant dual carriageway sweeping through the Glen of the Downs, a masterpiece in itself which improves life in the county, and augments the scenery.
Such scenery generates its own strong loyalties and sense of identity, and Wicklow folk are rightly and proudly a race apart. Drawing strength from their wonderful environment, they have a vigorous local life which keeps metropolitan blandness well at bay. Thus the hill town of Aughrim in southeast Wicklow has so much community spirit at it has topped the Tidy Towns awards.
While being in a place so beautiful is almost sufficient reason for existence in itself, they're busy people too, with sheep farming and forestry and all sorts of light industries, while down in the workaday harbour of Arklow in the south of the county - a port with a long and splendid maritime history - they've been so successful in organising their own seagoing fleet of freighters that there are now more cargo ships registered in Arklow than any other Irish port.
Local Attractions and Information
Arklow Tourism Information +353 (0)402 32484
Ashford Mount Usher Gardens
+353 (0)404 40116
Avoca Tourism Information +353 (0)402 35788
Blessington Russborough House & Gardens
+353 (0)45 865 239
Bray Kilruddery House & Gardens
+353 (0)1 286 3405
Bray National Sealife Centre
+353 (0)1 286 6939
Derrynamuck Dwyer McAllister Traditional Cottage
+353 (0)404 45325
Enniskerry Powerscourt House & Gardens
+353 (0)1 204 6000
Glendalough Farm Market
(second Suns) +353 (0)404 43885
Glendalough Tourism Information +353 (0)404 45688
Glendalough Visitor Centre
+353 (0)404 45325
Kilmacanogue Avoca Handweavers Garden +353 (0)1 286 7466
The Avoca Handweavers mill was established in the heart of Avoca village in 1723 where the wool from shorn sheep was spun and woven to make the finest wool and tweed clothes. Today, Avoca Handweavers are exporting worldwide and use only natural fibres in their scarves, throws and fabrics.
Kilquade National Garden Exhibition Centre
+353 (0)1 281 9890
Macreddin Organic Market
(first Suns month) +353 (0)402 36444
Rathdrum Avondale House
+353 (0)404 46111
Rathdrum Kilmacurragh Arboretum
+353 (0)1 647 3000
Wicklow County Gardens Festival
(May-July) +353 (0)404 20100
Wicklow Mountains National Park
+353 (0)404 45425
Wicklow Town Wicklow Historic Gaol
+353 (0)404 61599
Wicklow Town Tourism Information +353 (0)404 69117