Arklow Inbhear Mor
Arklow (Inbhear Mor, "Broad Estuary") lies on the N11, the main road south from Dublin. Here the River Avoca, from which the Vale of Avoca takes its name, flows into the Irish Sea. Arklow has good sandy bays, but is also a lively town with a fertiliser factory and potteries (conducted tours).Arklow has had an eventful history. It is a traditional belief that St Patrick landed here. In later centuries there was much fighting for possession of the town, which changed hands several times. The last battle fought here, during the 1798 Rising, is commemorated by a memorial in front of the Roman Catholic church.Arklow is a seaside resort with good swimming beaches, but it is also a busy little town noted for its boatyards. There is an interesting Museum of the Sea.
Along Arklow's South Strand past the golf course is Arklow Rock, which has fine views, and on which is Our Lady's Well, still much venerated.
From Arklow the R747 heads northwest along the River Avoca. To the right of the road stands Shelton Abbey, now a state forestry school, set in a park with magnificent rhododendrons and other beautiful shrubs.
Beyond Shelton Abbey near Asklow is Woodenbridge (side road into the Vale of Avoca), where two other streams flow into the River Avoca. The village has a golf course (nine holes) and a trout-hatchery, which visitors can inspect.
From Woodenbridge near Arklow the R747 runs west along the River Aughrim, via Aughrim and Tinahely, to Shillelagh, which has a nine-hole golf course. From the woods in this area came the stout cudgels, "shillelaghs," with which the Irish were accustomed to settle their differences at a time when they were not allowed to bear arms. There is trout fishing in the local streams.
In the hills west of Shillelagh the ruined Aghowle Church (12th C., National Monument) has an interesting doorway, a plain granite cross and old gravestones.
Vale of Avoca
From Woodenbridge the R752 leads north into the lovely Vale of Avoca, a favorite beauty spot celebrated by Thomas Moore. The road passes through Avoca village, a good trout-fishing center. In spring the valley, fringed by green hills, is gay with the white blossom of the wild cherry trees. In pre-Christian times copper, lead, zinc and sulfur were worked here. The area now contains a variety of industry.
Meeting of the Waters
3mi/5km up the Avoca valley from the Vale of Avoca, Castle Howard looks down from its crag onto the famous "Meeting of the Waters," where the Avonmore and Avonbeg flow into the Avoca. There is a good view of the confluence from the Lion's Bridge.
Avondale Forest Park
2mi/3km beyond the Meeting of the Water is the Avondale Forest Park, in which stands a mansion built in 1797. The mansion has a beautiful interior and was the birthplace in 1846 of patriot Charles Stewart Parnell. It is now occupied by the State forestry school. Near by is a nature trail, open all year.
Opening hours: Mar 1 to Oct 31: 11am-6pm
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Christmas Eve - Christian (Dec 24), Good Friday - Christian
Entrance fee in EUR: Family €15.00, Adult €5.00, Pensioners (OAP) €4.50
Useful tips: Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children).
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service