Avondale: The Perfect Summer Picnic Spot
In the heart of Wicklow, Tadgh found his ideal quiet place
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By the time this post goes live it will have been almost a full week since our neighbours across the Irish sea have voted to leave the European Union and it’s been the only thing that everyone has been talking about. They definitely should be talking about it, this is huge but I’ve always been of the view that when life gets hectic the best thing to do is to get away from the craziness of it all and “get back to nature” as they say.
Everyone has their favourite places to go and everyone has their own equally valid reasons for loving that place and all I can say is “that’s fantastic” because Ireland is filled with so many beautiful places. Today I’m going to tell you about my favourite place, Avondale which is located in the heart of Wicklow. For those of you who don’t know about this wonderful spot, Avondale was the old house and grounds of Charles Stewart Parnell who was one of the biggest voices during the Irish Home Role movement in the 1880s. I could easily go on to talk about the Home Rule movement and the part Parnell played but the best way for you to find out about his role in Ireland’s history is to head out to Avondale yourself and take the tour of the house. The house and gardens are open to the public from April through to October and admission price is only €7 for an adult.
Now that you have a brief background of Avondale I can tell you why I love this place so much. From my house in Greystones it’s about a 30 minute drive to get to Avondale, so just being able to get out of the car and stretch my legs is already a bonus. All joking aside, the first thing that always hits me is the fresh air and the silence. On a busy sunny day you’ll hear voices of other families, picnickers and tourists milling about but it is never loud enough to disturb that peaceful quiet only nature can bring. In the car park there are a multitude of picnic tables to use or you could even put a blanket down and sit on the grass. What I prefer to do is to pack my picnic in my bag and head out on one of the many forest trails.
The main walk brings you towards the Parnell House which is a testament to the Georgian era of grandeur, I’ve walked up to the house on numerous occasions and I am still in awe of the building. Follow the main path and you’ll be met with a choice of two forest walks (which both branch off to others), the one on the right is a tad shorter. I always take the short one because it gets me to the top of the hill where I like to picnic.
To get to the hill I love so much and the views you will fall in love with you have to walk through a forest of the tallest trees; those smells only a forest can produce, the crunch of leaves underfoot and the sound of birds makes the trip down to Avondale worth it. Then you get to the hill, instead of continuing along the path turn right and make your way up the grass, as you get higher you’ll come to The Cairn which was constructed by forestry students to just add to the natural beauty that surrounds you, it works as a good marker to tell you that you’ve made it to one of the best picnic spots in Ireland.
When you put your bag and blanket down and look out to the horizon you’ll be mesmerised by the rolling hills and green as far as the eye can see. Standing there with nothing but nature surrounding you and the thoughts in your head you can take a deep breath and just let out a sigh of relief. In that moment nothing else in your life matters, your worries slip away and you can just appreciate that we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.