This year, for their annual Away Holiday, members and friends of the North Coast Association of the National Trust visited county Wicklow to explore some of that county’s houses and gardens.
The first day commenced with a tour of the National Botanic Garden of Ireland’s arboretum in Kilmacurragh. From here it was a short drive to Avondale,
a medium-size Georgian mansion, with fine rooms, that was once the home of Charles Stewart Parnell. The following day, the party travelled to Blessington in the east of county Wicklow and the garden of plantswoman June Blake, a treasure-trove of interesting and rare plants. From there, it was a short drive to Russborough
House, former home of the Earls of Milltown and, more recently, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit and possibly the finest Palladian house in Ireland. Return to west Wicklow was via the Sally Gap with its stunning views across the Wicklow Mountains with a final stop at Killruddery House, near Bray, seat of the Earls of Meath. Killruddery is an Elizabethan revival house and famous for its gardens, the earliest in Ireland.