Mount Usher & Glendolough
corey says…This morning we were woken early by a very vocal cow. There was no doubt about it, Haroldstown Farmhouse was on a working farm. After a hearty breakfast with Larry and Siobhan, we couldn’t resist visiting the donkeys and sheep in front of the house. The donkeys were quite social, and Liam discovered that one of them loved being scratched behind the ear.
We then headed to nearby Duckett’s Grove. Siobhan had heard that they were to open it, and the Carlow literature said June 2007, but when we arrived, it looked like they were a long way away from any public visits. Things had changed from when we were there two years ago, so there is something going on.
It was then time to head to the coast. We walked the beach at Brittas Bay, one of Ireland’s Blue Flag beaches. There, Tony and Liam collected shells and rocks and we watched other walkers and horseback riders enjoy the beach. It was the start of the bank holiday weekend, so if the weather held out, the beach would probably be a popular stop.
Mount Usher Gardens
I have to say, we were at Mount Usher Gardens on a perfect day. The sun was bright and the azaleas and rhododendrons where in full bloom. When we pulled in, the carpark was quite full, but once we were inside, the gardens were very serene. A favorite stop on the paths was at the pet cemetery…there’s something charming about a tombstone that reads “Top Dog Muffin.”
Before we headed into the shops, we got a chocolate, sugar and butter fix at the cafe. The day was only getting more gorgeous, and folks were enjoying their meals at the tables on the lawn.
I’m not the first to say that there is something magical about Glendolough. Those who arrive on a dreary, foggy day and those, like us, who visit on a sunny day all boast that Glendolough was at its best when they were there.
We wandered around the ruins, and then took the walk around the lake. The hike was absolutely perfect, and it felt great to get a little exercise and sun. We stopped at the kiosk between the two lakes and ate 99s (ice cream cones with a Cadburry Flake tucked in them), and followed the path back to the visitor centre.
The woman at the visitor centre told us about a spot in a nearby valley. It was the site of a famous battle, and the trip into the valley revealed rocky ledges that played a role in helping the Irish defeat the British here.
The highlight of Glenmalore was the waterfall that cascades from the top of the glen to a small white cottage in the valley. Picture-perfect! We walked up the path and got a closer look at the waterfall. My usually watchful eye missed a pile of sheet dung, and I was grateful the water was close by for clean up.
The derelict cottage at the waterfall has planning permission posted, so it won’t be long before someone starts doing it up…and potentially making access to the falls a little more difficult.
Avoca and Arklow
From Glenmalore, we coursed through the Vale of Avoca (home of the TV show Ballykissangel) and began searching for a place to stay. We settled into another family room at The Gables near Arklow…a very nice place. It was one of the early purpose-built B&Bs in Ireland, so it had a nice sitting room and dining room for guests. The place has been given a very nice facelift, but remnants of its late 70s past appear in the avocado green sink and shower.
We then headed into Arklow for dinner and an evening wandering around town.