Ireland is a really beautiful country. If you are travelling from Dublin to Newtown Farm Guesthouse in Ardmore, Co. Waterford and you have a little time in your hands, I would suggest that you would drive down to Waterford taking in the splendour of Glendalough and some of the most scenic countryside in Ireland. Towrads the end of your journey yiou can visit the world famous Waterford Crystal show rooms.
Leave Dublin following the N 11 in the direction of Wexford. (If you have difficulty finding the correct road, follow signs for the ferry at Dun Laoghaire and from there pick up signs for Wexford.) As soon as the city suburbs are behind you, the road becomes a dual carriageway. Watch for signs indicating an exit signposted Enniskerry and Powerscourt Gardens. Follow the winding, wooded lane to Enniskerry and bear left in the center of the village: this brings you to the main gates of Powerscourt Gardens. As you drive through the vast, park like grounds, the mountains of Wicklow appear before you, decked in every shade of green.
Powerscourt House was burnt to a ruin in 1974: a rook's nest blocked one of the chimneys, and when a fire was lit in the fireplace, the resultant blaze quickly engulfed this grand home. Restoration is now under way and while there are no grand rooms to visit, you can enjoy refreshments at the restaurant and shopping at the Avoca knitwear store. The gardens descend in grand tiers from the ruined house, rather as if descending into a bowl-a mirror-like lake sits at the bottom. Masses of roses adorn the walled garden and velvet green grassy walks lead through the woodlands. Many visitors are intrigued by the animal cemetery with its little headstones and inscriptions. Such a corner is not uncommon in Irish stately homes. Leaving the car park, turn left for the 6-kilometer drive to the foot of Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ireland and a favourite summer picnic place for many Dubliners.
Turn to the left as you leave the waterfall grounds to meander along narrow country lanes towards Glencree. As you come upon open moorland, take the first turn left for the 8-kilometer uphill drive to the summit of Sally Gap. This road is known as the old military road because it follows the path that the British built across these wild mountains to aid them in their attempts to suppress the feisty men of County Wicklow. Grazing sheep seem to be the only occupants of this vast, rolling moorland. Below Glenmacnass Waterfall the valley opens up to a patchwork of fields beckoning you to Laragh and Glendalough.
Glendalough, a monastic settlement of seven churches, was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. After St. Patrick, St. Kevin is Ireland's most popular saint. He certainly picked a stunning site in this wooded valley between two lakes to found his monastic order. Amidst the tilting stones of the graveyard, the round tower-still perfect after more than a thousand years-punctuates the skyline. Take time to follow the track beyond Glendalough to the Upper Lake (you can also drive there). Tradition has it that St. Kevin lived a solitary life in a hut near here.
Farther up on a cliff face is a cave known as St. Kevin's Bed. Here, so the story goes, Kathleen, a beautiful temptress, tried to seduce the saint whom, to cool her advances, threw her into the lake.
Retrace the road to Laragh, turn right, and travel south through the village of Rathdrum where sturdy stone cottages line the street and continue across the crossroad following signposts for Avondale House, the home of Charles Stewart Parnell. Parnell was born into the ruling Anglo-lrish gentry but, due in part to the influence of his more open- minded mother, an American, he became the leading light in Ireland's political fight for independence. His downfall was his long-term affair with a married English lady. The house is sparsely furnished and takes just a few minutes to tour. You can also wander around the estate with its wonderful trees. (Open daily May-Sep, weekends Oct-Apr, tel: 0404 46111.)
Vale of Avoca
Leave Avondale to the left and you soon join the main road that takes you through the Vale of Avoca to the "Meeting of the Waters" at the confluence of the rivers Avonmore and Avonbeg. Detour into Avoca to visit the Avoca Handweavers. You are welcome to wander amongst the skeins and bobbins of brightly-hued wool to see the weavers at work and talk to them above the noise of the looms. An adjacent shop sells tweeds and woolens. (Open daily all year, tel: 01 286 7466.)
At Arklow join the N11, a broad, fast road taking you south through Gorey and Ferns to Enniscorthy. Amidst the gray-stone houses built on steeply sloping ground by the River Slaney lies a Norman castle. Rebuilt in 1586, the castle houses a folk museum that includes exhibits from the Stone Age to the present day, with the emphasis on the part played by local people in the 1798 rebellion against English rule. (Open all year, tel. 054-35926.)
Take the N30 to New Ross, The great-grandfather of American President John F. Kennedy emigrated from nearby
John F. Kennedy Park
Dunganstown,you may visit the John F. Kennedy Park which is signposted to the left as you enter New Ross (open all year 051-388171).
Waterford Crystal Factory
Return to the main road and cross the bridge in New Ross and continue on to Waterford to visit the Waterford Crystal Factory. please come and see our bustling factory and take a fascinating tour of our visitor centre, which we know you and your family will enjoy.
See how they work generations of design experience into pieces that are as individual as the people who make them. It's a real working environment but you can get very close up to the process and see the work almost through the eyes of the artisans.
Continue on the N25 to Dungarvan taking the N25 out of Dungarvan driving for 12 kilometres till you meet the turning off for Ardmore don't take this left travel a further kilometre on N25 and take the next left at Flemings Pub. Newtown Farm is 100 meters up this road.