Roundwood, at 239 metres above sea level, is one of the highest villages in Ireland and is located on the main route from Dublin to Glendalough.  The Gaelic name ‘An Tochar’ meaning causeway refers to stones and trees laid across wet and boggy ground to provide crossing points for travellers in the past.  The Scenic Vartry Reservoirs adjoin the village while a few miles away are spectacular Loughs Dan and Tay nestling in the Wicklow Mountains.

Today Roundwood is a haven for walkers, cyclists, anglers and golfers.  This pleasant and traditional village is the ideal base from which to explore the breath-taking natural beauty of the Wicklow Mountains, including walking the Wicklow Way.  Enjoy the traditional Irish welcome in our atmospheric pubs with quality food and good pints!

Points of Interest in Roundwood

This long distance walking route runs across the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains from Rathfarnham in Co. Dublin to Clonegal in Co. Carlow.  The Roundwood section includes spectacular views.

A Walks Information Board at the Old School shows family walks for different abilities.  Djouce Wood, 8km towards Enniskerry, has similar walks.

There is a 14km network of purpose built single track trails and forest roads on a waymarked circular route, with long climbs and descents over a wide variety of difficult terrains.

Built in c1820, this church was formerly Church of Ireland but was deconsecrated in 1985.  The graveyard is a very ancient Christian site and is still in use.  President Erskine Childers is buried here.

Mammals including badger, otter, red squirrel, mink, fox, stoat, hedgehog and deer are a common sight.  The Vartry Reservoirs are known for wintering waterfowl.  Good numbers of duck can be seen in the winter with the most common being mallard, widgeon and teal.  Other ducks such as pochard, tufted duck and goldeneye occur in smaller numbers.  Waders like lapwing and curlew are commonly seen around the shores of the lake and on adjoining agricultural land.  Mute and whooper swans also frequent the reservoirs during the winter.  Other common species include little grebes, cormorants and grey herons.  If you are lucky, you may spot kingfisher.  During summer, keep an eye out for grey-crested grebes which breed on the lakes.

Many birds breed and nest in the uplands: red grouse, peregrine, merlin, skylark, meadow pipit, common snipe and whitechat.  Common visitors are hen harrier, golden plover, wheatear and stonechat.  Grey wagtail and dipper are commonly seen at upland streams.

Deer are a common site in the Wicklow Uplands.  The species most commonly seen are Skia hybrid which is a cross between the native Irish Red Deer and the Japanese Sika Deer.  Sika Deer are originally from Japan and they were introduced to Ireland by Lord Powerscourt in1859 at his estate neat Glencree, Co Wicklow.  Unfortunately they escaped from captivity and in Wicklow interbred with the native Red Deer.  The result is that now all the deer in Wicklow are hybrids, a mixture of Red and Sika Deer.  In autumn, rutting Red stag road, the Sika stag whistles while the Sika hybrids can make a curious mixture of both sounds – sometimes starting with a whistle and ending in an attempted roar.

These purpose-built reservoirs were designed to supply the City of Dublin with drinking water.  The Lower Vartry Reservoir was formed by constructing a dam across the valley of the River Valley between 1862 and 1864.  To provide additional storage, a second dam dam, 3.5km upstream, was completed in 1923, forming the Upper Reservoir.  Both dams are earthen embankments with waterproof clay cores and have a stone facing on the upstream slope to prevent wave erosion.  Water is abstracted from the Lower Reservoir through the Draw Off Tower and conveyed by pipe under the dam to the Water Treatment Plant.  The plant treats  80 million litres of water daily and supplies large areas of Dublin, North Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown with drinkable water.  Interpretation panels at the dam on the Lower Vartry Reservoir explain the water treatment process.

St. Kevin’s Bus was established in 1927 and still operates a daily bus service from Dublin to Glendalough.  It is reputed to be the oldest private bus service in Ireland and is run by the third generation of the Doyle family.  The former St. Kevin’s Bus Garage was built in the 1930s.

The Old School built in 1923 replaced an older school located at Oldtown.  The school was used until 1984 when a larger National School was built on the formed Fair Green.  Today the Old School is used for many community activities.

This Gothic-style Church of Ireland church was built in 1834 and is located within an idyllic setting surrounded by a small graveyard.  Rev John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) was curate here from 1826 to 1828 and then joined the Plymouth Brethren.  Later he formed congregations on the Continent in many countries and his followers become known as Darbyites or Exclusive Brethren.

Ballyremon Common is an area of ancient and natural beauty between Djouce Woods and Great Sugar Load and is of archaeological importance with fulacht fladh, ring forts, bowl burrow, hut sites, earthworks and cairns dating back at least 4,000 years.  ‘Lazy Beds@ or ridges used for growing potatoes up to famine times are visible here.

The Synge Family lived in Roundwood and their estate extended to Glanmore Castle.  John Hatch Synge (1788-1845), an admirer of the educationalist Pestalozzi, founded a school on the estate based on Pestalozzi’s method.  He set up a printing press in Roundwood in 1817 to print his English translations of Pestalozzi’s work.  His grandson, John Millington Synge (1871-1909), author of the ‘Playboy of the Western World’, spent much time in the area.

General Joseph Holt (1756-1826) of the United Irishmen conducted a campaign in the area against the British during the 1798 Rebellion.  He was transported to Australia.  The family returned to Ireland and Holt is buried in Monkstown, Co Dublin.  A memorial stone is to be found near his family farm on the Enniskerry road.

Sean T O’Kelly, (1882-1966), second President of Ireland (1945-1959), lived in Roundwood Park just outside the village.  He was a member of Dail Eireann from 1918 and was Minister in several key departments from 1932 until his election as President.

The Barton family acquired the nearby Glendalough House Estate in 1838.  One branch of the family has been in the Bordeaux wine trade since 1725.  Wine buffs would be familiar with the names Barton & Guestier, Chateaux Langoe-Barton and Leoville-Barton.

Robert Barton (1881-1975) was elected as a Sinn Fein member in the 1928 general election to the British House of Commons.  He was a signatory of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6th December 1921.  He died at home in Glendalough House aged 94.

Robert Erskine Childers (1870-1922) lived with his relatives, the Barton family, at Glendalough House as a child.  He was a leading Irish Republican executed during the Irish Civil War.   He wrote the espionage thriller The Riddle of the Sands.

Erskine Hamilton Childers (1905-1974) served as the fourth President of Ireland from 1973 until his death in 1974.  He was a member of the Dail (1938-1973) and Minister for many years.  He is buried at Derrylossary Church.