Blessington

Blessington is a small town in County Wicklow, with a population in 2016 of 5520. It’s west of the Wicklow mountains and this part of the county is low-lying and rural. It’s just on the edge of County Kildare and County Dublin – in the Middle Ages it was the boundary of “The Pale”, the territory around Dublin under direct rule of the English monarchs. The main visitor attraction is 18th century Russborough House, with a rich art collection.

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Dublin’s water supply was greatly improved by the River Vartry reservoirs at Roundwood, but by 1930 the burgeoning city was outstripping even this source, and a further reservoir was created by damming the Liffey just south of Blessington. Poulaphouca, as it became, has 166 billion litres capacity and a 44 km shoreline. Its water is raw (ie untreated) so the lake can be used for public recreation. The water is pumped to Ballymore, one of umpteen tiny places of that name meaning “big town” and which if all heaped together would barely add up to one medium-sized village, so this one is specifically “Ballymore Eustace.” There the water is purified and piped to Stillorgan in south Dublin to join the city supply.

Russborough House

Dublin Bus 65 runs daily every couple of hours from Dublin College Green (not Busáras) via Templeogue Rd and Tallaght Rd to Blessington, taking 90 min. Some continue south past Russborough House entrance to the village of Ballymore.

Bus 132 from central Dublin picks up at Blessington four times a day on its way to Baltinglass and Tullow, but you can’t use it between city centre and Blessington. On Thursday one bus extends to Enniscorthy, Wexford and Rosslare ferry port. It leaves Rosslare around 08:00 to drop off at Blessington at 11:00, and returns picking up at 18:30 to reach Rosslare at 21:30.

Other public transport routes involve doubling back via the city: there are no cross-country buses to Naas, Carlow, or east across the mountains. The nearest railway station is Naas & Sallins, with frequent trains from Dublin Heuston; it’s 15 km from Blessington and a taxi might be €25.

Map of Blessington

Bus 65 will get you to the gardens, and occasionally to Russborough House. You need wheels to reach Punchestown or explore the mountain valleys.

Local taxi firms are Deerpark Cabs (+353 87 647 2726) and Blessington Airport Taxi (+353 87 255 7993).

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