Like much of the east coast, the region of Wicklow (from the Irish, Chill Mhantáin) was throughout its history especially susceptible to invasion from the Vikings. Although details are sketchy, it is with some certainly that the place-name, “Wicklow,” derived from the Nordic name, “Wykynlo,” meaning there was in all likelihood a Viking presence in the region.
What we do know of its pre-history is that a reclusive Celtic Christian priest, known as St. Kevin, built the monastery in Glendalough in the 6th century, which over six centuries found immense renown and appreciation in the Irish Annals. Over time, the surrounding glacial valley was settled with churches, cathedrals and round towers embedded unobtrusively into the beautifying scenery. In the past a pilgrimage to the valley was largely a religious affair, but today people travel for unusual beauty of the upper and lower lakes, to climb the all-accommodating granite cliffs, spy some of the rarest and newest birds to Ireland and to breathe in the air of things past.
The Wicklow Mountains, which take in the site of Glendalough, rise unceasingly uphill over four counties into a designated Special Area of Conservation. Powerscourt Waterfall, near the frosty Great Sugar Loaf hill (which is probably more fun to imagine than it is to visit), is the highest in Ireland at 397 feet.
Unmissable Attractions County Wicklow
1. Wicklow Mountains National Park Education Centre (Opening times vary from season to season, but generally the centre is open from Monday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. in summer)
2. Powerscourt House and Gardens (Monday – Sunday from 9.30 a.m. – 1.30 p.m.) Prices: Adults €8.50 / Senior citizens and students €7.50 / Children (under 16) €5.00 (children under 5 go free) / Family €25.00 (2 adults and 3 children)
3. Powerscourt Waterfall (Opening Times vary from season to season, but generally the waterfall is open Monday to Sunday from 9.30 a.m. – 7.00 p.m. in summer) / Adults €5.50 / Senior citizens and students €5.00 / Children (under 16) €3.50 (children under 2 go free) / Family €16.00 (2 adults and 3 children)
4. Russborough House (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. in summer) Prices: Adults €10.00 / Senior citizens and students €6.00 / Children (under 16) €6.00 / Family €25.00
5. Wicklow’s Historic Gaol (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from 10.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.) Prices: Adults €7.30 / Children €4.50 (children under 5 go free) / Senior citizens and students € 6.00 / Family (2 adults and 3 children) €19.00 / Night tours (adults only) €15.00
6. Mt. Usher Gardens (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from 10.30 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. in summer) Prices: Adults €7.50 / Senior citizens and students €6.50 / Children (4-16) €3.50 (children under 4 go free)