Russborough House and Gardens - Blessington
Russborough House and Gardens enjoy an idyllic setting amongst two hundred acres of lovely natural parklands, close to Blessington Lakes in County Wicklow. This stunning stately house is considered to be the longest house in Ireland, the frontage extending to 210 metres. This historic house has undergone a sympathetic restoration and boasts almost three hundred years of grandeur. It is often referred to one of Ireland's most beautiful houses.
It is a fine example of Palladian architecture, constructed between 1741 and 1755. The interior has a number of fine features not least its intricate plasterwork ceilings created by the Lafranchini brothers, a beautiful mahogany staircase and is decorated in a Georgian style. The house is beautifully kept and is luxuriously furnished with fine antique furniture, tapestries, carpets, porcelain, bronzes and silver, dating back to the 18th century and earlier. The house was originally owned by Joseph Leeson, the first Earl of Milltown. The home eventually was acquired by the Beit family in 1952, founder of the DeBeers diamond mining company. They generously gifted the house to the Irish public in 1978. Today the house displays a collection of unique exhibitions and 3D interactive exhibitions in the basement that narrate the life, stories, history and travels of the Beit family, through photographs and film. Guided tours taken by local experts really bring the history of the house and its inhabitants to life, they last about forty five minutes and visitors will find these tours to be interesting and entertaining.
Of particular importance here is the art collection, it is world famous and contains masterpieces by many famous artists including, Goya, Vermeer, Rubens, Velazquez and Gainsborough. The collection was stolen a number of times over the years, most of the paintings have been returned and are now available to view. A truly unique and spectacular collection of artworks.
The glorious parkland walk provides beautiful views of the house, it is about two kilometres long and takes about thirty minutes, there are information boards dotted around with information on the flora and fauna. Also located here is a large beech hedge maze that is popular with visitors of all ages, take time to explore and navigate this fascinating and tricky maze. Younger visitors will delight in the fairy trails where they have to watch out for these mythical creatures, as well as the playground. Another attraction is the 150 year old Hippodrome building, it was used for training horses in days gone by.
A number of craft workshops operate at different times during the year, visitors will be able to see craft people at work using traditional methods in these ancient crafts.
Russborough House holds a number of events and festivities throughout the year including, vintage car rallies, plant fairs, outdoor concerts and much more. Watch the sheepdog demonstrations that take place daily at 2.15pm.
The Kitchen Garden Cafe is open and seves up a nice selection of tasty snacks and light lunches in warm and comfortable surroundings. There is also a delightful gift shop that sells gorgeous artisan handcrafted souvenirs and gifts.
Russborough House is open for guided tours from December to March and the Gardens are open throughout the year, it is one of Ireland's most visited attractions.