Welcome to Blessington, gateway to the valleys and mountains of West Wicklow. Blessington owes its origins to Michael Boyle, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. In 1667 he acquired a vast estate of over 17,000 acres and soon after founded the town of Blessington.

The first farmers in Ireland, known as neolithic people (new stone age), left their mark on the area. A passage tomb on Seefin Mountain, near the town, was built over 5,000 years ago. Unfortunately it is not known where these people built their houses.

A hill fort, Rath Turtle Moat, in Glen Ding Wood just west of the town, testifies to early habitation and the area’s strategic importance. The fort was last used by the Vikings in the 11th century but may have been constructed over 2,000 years before their occupation.

In 1778 the estate was inherited by Wills Hill, Earl of Hillsborough, later the Marquis of Downshire. The Downshires built many of the finest buildings in the town, most of which survive to this day.

Points of Interest in Blessington

A Palladian style mansion built in 1741 by the first Earl of Milltown, this house is set in tranquil parkland with magnificent view of the Wicklow Mountains. Home to the Sir Alfred Beit collection of paintings, furniture, silverware and porcelain.  Open April-October and by appointment thereafter.

This granite high cross was originally situated in an early Christian settlement at Burgage More and was relocated to Burgage cemetery when the reservoir was created.

Built in the 1820s this elegant house was used by the landlord’s agent who collected rents and looked after his affairs in the area. The Downshire estate had its headquarters in Hillsborough, Co. Down.

The steam tram began operating in1888 between Blessington and Terenure. The tram continued to operate until 1932. The journey of 16 miles took 1 hour 30 mins.

This large reservoir (Blessington Lakes) was created at the end of the 1930s as a water supply for Dublin and to generate electricity from the dam at Poulaphouca. The lake is fed by the upper reaches of the River Liffey which rises at the Sally Gap.

This well was a major water supply for Blessington in the 19th century.

This three-storied castle overlooks the Liffey Valley and dates from the late 14th or 15th century. The castle features a vaulted ceiling, decorative windows and a projecting tower contains a winding staircase. The western end of the castle has been destroyed. Originally there were two further castle in this area, hence the name ‘Threecastles Castle’.

This building dates from 1810. From here, tolls were collected for the main road which had been significantly improved by the third Marquis of Downshire. There is a foot stile to the left of the building.

This stone marks the divide between the steam tram which operated between Blessington and Terenure and the tram which continued on to the waterfall at Poulaphouca.

St Mary’s has been in continuous use since the time of Archbishop Boyle in 1683.  The church boasts the oldest working turret clock in Ireland.  The church was enlarged in the 19th century.

The churchyard is the burial place of Elizabeth Smith, the 19th century diarist, and Sir Alfred and Lady Beit.

The Downshire Monument commemorates the coming of age (1865) of Arthur Hill, heir to the Downshire estate. He became the fifth Marquis of Downshire in 1868 and died in 1874.

This lime tree is surrounded by four round granite stones. They were, together with another four stones, originally located at the entrance to St. Mary’s Church.

The original use of this 1830s building was as a market house and courthouse. Stones from the ruins of Blessington House were used in the construction of the building.

This building was built around 1830 and used in the 19th century as an inn.

The pillars of the Garda station were taken from the ruins of Blessington House. This house dates from 1673 and belonged to Archbishop Boyle. The house was burned down during the rebellion of 1798 and was never rebuilt.

The hill is located in Glen Ding Wood via Naas Road. There is a designated walk leading through deciduous and coniferous forest to the hill top.

This granite horseshoe arch dates from 1852 and marked the entrance to the blacksmith’s forge.