Powerscourt House - Background:
Powerscourt Estate is one of the most beautiful country estates in Ireland. Situated in the mountains of Wicklow on 1000 acres (404 hectares), it was originally an important strategic site for the Anglo-Normans who came to Ireland in the 12th century. By the year 1300 a castle had been built here and was in the possession of the le Poer (Power) family from which it takes its name. The succeeding centuries saw the castle held for different periods by powerful families such as the O'Tooles and the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare.
Powerscourt was much altered in the 18th century when famous German-born architect, Richard Castle, remodelled the castle and grounds. The work was commissioned by the 3rd Viscount, Richard Wingfield (1697-1751) and involved the creation of a magnificent mansion around the shell of the earlier castle.
In 1974 a major refurbishment was carried out so that the house could also be opened to visitors. Tragically in the early hours of the 4th November of that year a fire broke out on the top floor, and by the morning the main part of the house was a roofless shell. No one was injured, but all of the principal reception rooms and bedrooms were destroyed. The walls of the main house, revealing stonework dating back to the 16th century, stood as a stark reminder of the fire for over twenty years.
In 1996 a process of regeneration began with the re-roofing of the house and the restoration of the windows as they were before the fire. The entrance hall now features an exhibition describing the fascinating history of Powerscourt, while shops, a terrace café and other visitor facilities are also located in the house. The ballroom has been fully restored. Powerscourt house is again a living, vibrant place.
The Gardens - The History:
Powerscourt Gardens, which cover 47 acres (19 hectares), were laid out in two main periods. When the house was rebuilt in the decade after 1731, the surrounding grounds were laid out in a series of formal rides and parkland to the North, with carefully planned gardens and terraces to the South. The design reflected the desire to create a garden which was part of the wider landscape.
A century later the 6th Viscount Powerscourt instructed his architect, Daniel Robertson, to draw up new schemes for the Gardens. Robertson was one of the leading proponents of Italianate garden design which was influenced by the terraces and formal features of Italian Renaissance villas and perfected in gardens in France and Germany. He is said to have suffered from gout and directed operations from a wheelbarrow, fortified by a bottle of sherry. When the sherry was finished, work ceased for the day!
With the death of the 6th Viscount in 1844, his son resumed the work in the late 1850s when enormous numbers of trees were planted and the grounds were adorned with an amazing collection of statuary, ironwork and other decorative items.
Further generations of the Wingfields maintained the grounds up until 1961, when the Estate passed to the Slazenger family, under whose aegis the Gardens received more care and attention.
The Gardens - Main Features:
Take time during your stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt to explore and discover the beauties of Powerscourt House and Gardens. Main features include:
- Japanese Garden
- Italian Terraces
- Tower Valley (featuring Pepper Pot Tower)
- Walled Garden
- Dolphin (fish) Pond
- Pets’ Cemetery