Enniskerry is an estate village and until recent times its prosperity depended on the local landlords, the Viscounts Powerscourt. The village began as a cluster of cottages beside a ford over the Cookstown river and, when the great house of Powerscourt was rebuilt in the 1730s, it grew mainly to accommodate those employed by the estate. More development occurred in the early 19th century with the building of a school, Courthouse and several fine houses for the gentry. New roads followed the coming of the railway to Bray in 1834. The buildings with their distinctive gables and ornamental woodwork were remodelled in the 1850s and 60s by the 7th Viscount Powerscourt. Two churches were built in 1859: St. Patrick’s Protestant Church to replace one constructed in the 1600s beside Powerscourt House and St Mary’s Catholic Church near the bridge at Knocksink.

Architecturally very little has changed in the village since then. New building is mainly beyond the village bounds and the centre remains recognisably an 18th and 19th century landlord’s village.

Points of Interest in Enniskerry

Built by the Powerscourt estate in 1818, this school operated continuously until 2012. Originally it was one large room with all ages of children sitting together and the school teacher’s family lived in the building. The ground in front of the building was once the teacher’s garden.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians first registered a branch in Enniskerry in 1904 and leased this property from the Powerscourt estate in 1916. The rate for full membership in 1935 was 6 pence per week. Members could take part in the many social activities run by the club and receive benefits in times of trouble. The hall is still occasionally used as a meeting and lecture room. Originally a shop, the frontage is the only one in the village which has not been modernised.

In 1859 this Church of Ireland building with its fine copper spire was given to the parish by Elizabeth, Marchioness of Londonderry, mother of the 7th Viscount.  St Patrick’s replaced the 17th century church which was partially pulled down beside Powerscourt House. The graveyard contains headstones of the tenants and staff of the Powerscourt and Charleville Estates; warriors of many conflicts, clergy, scholars and artists, including Paul Henry. In 2009, St Patrick’s and St Mary’s together celebrated 150 years of Christian witness in the parish.

Once the home of the village constable (Royal Irish Constabulary – RIC) and his family, this house is still in use by the Garda Siochana. Built in c 1840, the barracks was attacked and damaged during the unrest in 1921 and the police took over the Parochial Hall as their headquarters until the damage was repaired.

Next door was the almshouse which gave shelter to six old women in the 19th century and was home to the Jubilee Nurses at a later period.

Built in the 1820s, the Court House was a symbol of Lord Powerscourt’s influence.  The Court sat monthly listening to Petty Sessions, usually minor offences such as allowing animals to wander, or mistreating a horse, or being drunk and disorderly in the street.  The magistrates lived locally and occasionally Lord Powerscourt or Lord Monck of Charleville would sit in judgement.

This fine building with its horseshoe entrance was built in 1855, with the blacksmith’s house alongside. Blacksmiths have been recorded on or near this site as early as 1756. Richard Sibbett who took the lease on that date died in 1781 aged 83 and was buried, according to the burial book, on a day of “very great thunder and lightning”. The present forge was in use until the 1990s.

Powerscourt is one of Europe’s great treasures and Ireland’s most famous Estates. The house was once a stately Palladian mansion dating from the 1730s, home to the Powerscourt family for over 350 years. Severely damaged by fire in 1974, it has been imaginatively restored and is now a popular destination for visitors from home and abroad. The grand rooms are used for functions and the rest given over to a variety of shops. The Demesne offers an imposing Italianate garden, sweeping terraces, statuary, ornamental lakes, a Japanese garden and many fountains. The iconic view of the Sugarloaf Mountain from the terrace is framed by magnificent trees, some of which are the largest of their kind in Ireland.

Designed to commemorate the centenary of the creation of the viscountancy at Powerscourt, the clock tower was built with granite from the quarry in Glencree. It incorporated two stands for drinking water and a horse trough. The water was supplied from Dixon’s well, a spring on the north side of the bridge. The surrounding garden is in the shape of a shamrock and Lord Powerscourt dedicated the monument on St Patrick’s Day, 1843. From the mid 19th century, there was a monthly fair held here in the shade of a great oak tree.

Built in the early part of the 19th century reputedly at the expense of the Rector for meetings and church classes, the hall has had a varied life. It has been used by the Guides and Scouts, for parties, sales of work, amateur dramatics, as the school gymnasium and as a temporary Garda barracks. It was once home to a charity distributing clothes to the needy at which time it was called “The Repository.”  The caretaker lived in what is now the entrance hall. Extended and refurbished in 1992, today the hall still plays a vital role in the community as a meeting and function room.

The Carnegie Library was built in 1911, part of the nationwide benefaction of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish/American philanthropist. It is built on a site which also once housed the Enniskerry National School. The land was leased from Lord Powerscourt at a rent of 1 shilling per year. It has been used as a schoolroom, bookstore, meeting room, and again today, as a fully functioning library. Above the doorway is carved the Wingfield (Viscounts Powerscourt) coat of arms.

The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was built in 1859 on land given by Lord Powerscourt when he gained his majority. Before this the Catholic faithful of the parish worshipped in a barn owned by a Mrs Dixon. The building, interior furnishings, and the stained glass were all made by Irish craftsmen and the spire was added a few years later. St Mary’s was refurbished and modernised in1995. The Parochial House dates from the building of the church and the school next door was opened in 1940. Previously the school stood on land beside the present library. In 2009, St Mary’s and St Patricks together celebrated 150 years of Christian witness in the parish.

Originally the Estate Office was situated at Powerscourt House but was moved to this property in the 1860s when the viscount renovated large parts of the farm and workers’ quarters. The house appears on maps in 1840 and has been used as a dwelling, a lodging for estate employees, a schoolroom and a fever hospital at various times in its history.

One of the oldest buildings in the village with the date 1715 over the stableyard door it was an important resting place on the ancient way to Glendalough from Dublin. Destroyed by fire in 1894 it reopened for business two years later with remodelled gables to match the later buildings on the church hill. The coats of arms are those of the Wingfield family, Viscounts Powerscourt.

Originally a 19th century military barracks, the building was used for eighty years as a Reformatory School and after the Second World War it was a reception centre for homeless German children who were then fostered by Irish families.  In 1974 a new enterprise was established in response to the escalating violent conflict in Irish society. Programmes run at Glencree Centre are devoted to peace building and conflict resolution. They aim to break down barriers of intolerance and sectarianism in Ireland, north and south, and also overseas, by enabling dialogue in peaceful surroundings.

Knocksink Wood is a Special Area of Conservation. It is situated in the valley of the Glencullen River which winds its way over granite boulders along the valley floor. The steep sides of the valley are covered with mature deciduous woodland including species such as oak, holly, hazel, ash, alder and beech. There are walking trails alongside the river and throughout the woods which are suitable for gentle strolls.

The bridge at Knocksink was built in 1859 and at one time it was the highest bridge in Ireland. During the Second World War holes were drilled in the bridge in order to blast it with dynamite in case of invasion.

The Wicklow Way is Ireland’s oldest long-distance walking route beginning at Marley Park in south Dublin and ending at Clonegal, Co. Carlow. It covers a distance of 127km; the ascent is 3,200m and it takes at least seven days to do the full walk. The Wicklow Way can be accessed 7.5km from Enniskerry village in the Glencree valley near Knockree Hostel.

The An Oige hostel at Knockree (7.5km from Enniskerry) was originally a farmhouse called Lackens and has been a hostel since the 1948.  It was extensively refurbished in 2008 and boasts stunning views of the Glencree valley and walks along the Glencree River. It is ideally situated for those walkers travelling on the Wicklow Way (which passes the door) or for an activity based holiday with walking, fishing, horse riding, and water sports in the surrounding countryside.

The war cemetery is situated at the head of the Glencree Valley and was dedicated on 9th July 1961. There are 134 graves mostly of airforce and naval service casualties in WW2. Six were prisoners of war interned in Ireland in WW1 and 46 were civilian detainees lost when their transport was torpedoed off Tory Island in July 1940. The cemetery is administered by the German War Graves Commission.

5 km from the village, Powerscourt Waterfall is Ireland’s highest at 121m (398 ft). It is set in one of Ireland’s most beautiful parklands at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains surrounded by forests of beech, oak, larch and pine, some of which were planted over 200 years ago. Look out for the Giant Redwoods which are native to northern California. Wildlife at the waterfall includes cuckoo, chaffinch, deer and red squirrel. There are walks by the river, picnic areas and a children’s playground for younger visitors.