Clonegal received the accolade of Ireland’s tidiest village in the 2014 and 2015 Tidy Towns Awards and is well worth a visit for its stunning planting and colourful flower displays. The village of Cluain na nGall, or in English, “the Meadow of the Stranger” is set in a valley between the Blackstairs and Wicklow Mountains, straddling the meeting place of the rivers Slaney and Derry where the counties Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford meet. The mountains, the valleys and the rivers, the fishing and the shooting facilities have made this village a favourite stopping place over the years. It is often referred to as the “Switzerland of Ireland” for its outstanding natural beauty. With a backdrop of tree clad hills and abundant wild and bird life centred on its picturesque river; Clonegal is a delight to explore.
Huntington Castle, voted one of Ireland’s top 20 Hidden Gems by The Guardian in March 2015 is set n over 160 acres of gardens, woodland and farmland. The castle features a fascinating guided tour which explains its 17th century history. The tour also features the world famous Temple of Isis located in the old castle dungeons. The castle offers a fabulous woodland playground, as well as a charming tearoom and giftshop. The gardens are well worth a visit in their own right and were mainly laid out in the 17th century by the Esmondes who built Huntington Castle in 1625. They include the French limes on the avenue as well as the formal lawns to the side of the house, fish ponds on either side of the centre walk and the yew tree walk.
FACILITIES: Children’s adventure playground, coach and car park, guided castle tours, refurbished tea room, gift shop, woodland walks and rose gardens. Wheelchair access is limited to certain areas of the gardens only.
HOW TO FIND US: Entrance gates in the village of Clonegal.
GPS: 52.690404, -6.649131
OPENING TIMES: May – September 2 p.m. – 6 p.m daily. House 2 – 5 p.m. weekends in May and September and daily June – August. For special events outside these times see website – Easter, Halloween and Christmas at the Castle. Open at other times by arrangement.
ADMISSION: Gardens – adults €5, U12 €2.50. Usual concessions. House and gardens adults €9, children U7 no extra charge. Family and group discounts.
The Durdin or Weavers Cottages were built by alexander Durdin in the late 17th century. They were lived in by weavers when the trade was at its height and now feature many items, artefacts, furniture and pictures from bygone times. The development comprises a pair of semi-detached, two-bay, single-storey dormer cottages with attic conversion. Beautiful heritage garden to the rear featuring a variety of vegetables, and plants grown for the dyeing of wool used in weaving. The house of Sond and Story is held on the third Monday of every month in St. Brigid’s Community Hall, Clonegal 8 p.m. – late. All are welcome. Light refreshments served.
How to find us: In the village of Clonegal which is situated 10km from the village of Ballon off the N80 and 17km from Tullow.
GPS: 52.695149, – 6.648289
Opening times: Open all year round Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Admission: Free, voluntary contributions welcome.