After our quiet evening at the Carlton Kinsale Resort and Spa we began our journey to the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt (30 km south of Dublin) via Cashel and the Powerscourt Gardens. The route was supposed to take us around Cork but somehow we missed a turn and ended up going directly through the center of the city. I guess it made for a more interesting but longer drive to Cashel (supposed to take 1.5 hours but took us 2 hours).
Upon arriving in Cashel we found what we thought was a good parking spot in the centre of town as we did not see any parking around the Rock of Cashel, our destination. From our parking space we had about a 10 minute walk to the ruins and discovered that we had definitely missed the correct parking spot. There is an abundance of parking right next to the Rock of Cashel, but you have to drive right up to it on the city side. Regardless of our various missteps that day we made it to the Rock of Cashel which was quite spectacular. Here are some pictures:
Rock of Cashel (I think it was 6 euros apiece and definitely worth it ****)
Another picture from the hill it sits on looking out over the countryside
One picture of the interior
After touring the Rock of Cashel for approximately 30 minutes (there is a short video presentation in the attached museum but we did not stay as I typically do not find those very interesting) we made our way to the Russborough House, an old estate home near Naas, Ireland. While our guidebook didn’t say much about the house we thought it would be fascinating as we had plenty of time to see something different. It turned out to be one of our better decisions as it was an hour-long guided tour through the house by an older lady who obviously cared very much about the history of the estate and of Ireland itself. Quite entertaining. Here is a picture of the exterior of the house:
Russborough House (*** – Worth a stop if you are touring the Sally Gap or Powerscourt Gardens)
After we toured the estate we ate lunch in the cafe attached and it was actually pretty good and inexpensive. Upon finishing our lunch we began to make our way to the Powerscourt Estate Gardens via the Sally Gap Military Road through the Wicklow Mountains. It was one of the most spectacular drives I have ever made and I would highly recommend it anyone renting a car in Ireland. Here a few pictures from the drive but it is a shame that they just do NOT do it justice:
Sally Gap (***** – Great drive through the Wicklow Mountains)
Sheep roaming the countryside
After the relatively long drive, given the distance, through the Sally Gap we made our to the Powerscourt Estate Gardens. It is supposedly one of the finest formal gardens outside of continental Europe and I must agree with that assessment. Although formal gardens are not my “cup of tea” so to speak, it was pretty incredible. Here a few pictures:
Powerscourt Estate Gardens (*** – Worth a day trip visit from Dublin)
The gardens took us about 1 hour to walk through, a bit faster than the recommended pace, but we were quite anxious to get to our hotel for the evening. I had used some Marriott points to book us a room in the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt hotel which is adjacent to the Powerscourt Gardens. The hotel also has a Gordon Ramsay Restaurant which we had planned to try out that evening as a treat for ourselves.
When you pull up to the Ritz-Carlton it is not the most visually stunning property in the world (the reason is that the backside of the hotel is the focus due to the proximity to the gardens) but it still has the feel of a luxury hotel. We were driving our tiny Toyota Yaris and it is always fun pulling into that kind of hotel in that kind of car! After parking in the FREE! self-parking we made our way to check-in where we were helped by a friendly staff member who promptly checked us in and assigned a bell boy to take us to our room and show us the features.
We were quite blown away with just how nice the room was and I hope the pictures below can convey how nicely furnished and designed it was. (We had a room on the ugly front side of the hotel but we also had a balcony which was nice)
King Garden Deluxe Room at Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt ($$$$$$$$ – Basically use points!) (There is also a couch to the right and a walk-in closet)
Here is the balcony
Once we were settled into our room we walked downstairs to the front desk and made reservations later that evening for dinner at the Gordon Ramsay Powerscourt. (Normally, I would not pay to eat at a place like this but we both love Masterchef, which is hosted by Chef Ramsay, so we thought what the hell) Here is the exterior of the restaurant:
In hindsight, we were glad we ate the restaurant just to say we did, but we were not blown away by the food. It was good but was nothing otherworldly. I guess our expectations were slightly out of whack.
We finished the evening in the fabricated pub located in the basement of the Ritz-Carlton and came away pleasantly surprised by how reasonable the beer was down there. Given a second chance, I think we would choose to eat in the pub instead of the much pricier Gordon Ramsay Restaurant.
I hope y’all enjoyed this as I know we certainly felt like this was one of our favorite days of the trip! I hope to have Day 6 – Dublin posted either tomorrow or Friday.