Home And Away Guide: Woodenbridge Hotel & Lodge Co Wicklow
Immerse yourself in history and heritage with a stay in Ireland’s oldest hotel, the Woodenbridge in Co Wicklow. Located in the picturesque Vale of Avoca this property overlooks the green lawns of the local golf club and calming waters of the Aughrim River. Life began here in 1608 as a popular coaching house for merchants. Guests, it’s said, would sit by the grand fireplace drinking punch to keep warm. Speaking of guests, the very room where former Irish president Éamon De Valera honeymooned is available to visitors.
The hotel was purchased by the O'Brien family in 1993, and over the next number of years, while conscious of their responsibility to maintain the original charm of the hotel, an extensive refurbishment was undertaken to bring the hotel up to the standards required of a modern hotel. Golf breaks are also a specialty and discounted green fees are offered on a number of local golf courses including Coollattin, Arklow, The European, Macreddin and Woodenbridge itself. Long considered to be a panoramic paradise of beauty, the area surrounding Woodenbridge is perhaps Ireland's best example of untold natural scenery. The location is ideal for other activities such as falconry, hiking and sightseeing. Nearby find Glendalough, home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland.
This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the “Monastic City”. Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th through 12th centuries. Close to the monastic city is the interactive centre featuring audio visual and also a model of the monastic site on display. The National Park covers an area of 20,000 hectares providing protection for landscape and wildlife including Lugnaquilla and Liffey Head Bog complexes and Glendalough Wood Nature Reserve. Afterwards take a drive through Wicklow Gap twisting and turning through mountains, and wide-open moors with gorse and purple heather. The Gap itself one of two passes cutting through the Wicklow Mountains from east to west (the other is the Sally Gap) offers postcard moments one after the other.
The scenery seems to go on forever, rolling and dipping into the valleys below. There’s barely a single tree, so nothing interrupts the views. Further west you will discover the very fine Russborough House a stately home situated near Blessington Lakes which is reputed to be the longest period house in Ireland. Expect a wonderful visitor centre that offers award-winning guided house tours, parkland tours and a historic 3D interactive basement exhibition, playground, maze, seasonal garden tours and tea rooms. Sheepdog demonstrations and horse and carriage rides also available.
A unique feature to Russborough is the fascinating 3D Exhibition, where you can view extraordinary photographs from the 1920s and 1930s, photographed by Sir Alfred Beit on his 3D camera. This exhibition includes cinema footage from Sir Alfred & Lady Beit’s travels, educational tables, menus and more. Woodenbridge Hotel & Lodge special offers for the winter include a one night special double occupancy from €150 in the lodge (€75 per person sharing), or €160 in the main hotel (€80 per person sharing) This includes a choice of starter , main course , desert , tea/coffee in the Redmond Restaurant or the more relaxed atmosphere of the Four Vales Bar. For best rates visit www.woodenbridgehotel.com.