About The Festival

fiachraI am delighted to welcome you to the West Wicklow Festival 2018. 

I had the privilege of growing up as a farmer and pianist in Ballyknockan, on the glistening Blessington lakes. In 2011, I moved to London to pursue my Masters degree at the Royal Academy of Music, and subsequently have travelled extensively to many great festivals all around the world.

With every new festival I attended I could no longer ignore my desire to establish a festival in my native Wicklow, and finally last year, 2017, it happened! The West Wicklow Festival brings the riches of wonderful artists from Ireland and abroad to West Wicklow, for the enjoyment of all-comers. Russborough House, one of Ireland’s most beautiful Palladian houses, and St Mary’s Church Blessington, are fitting venues with their intimate surroundings and long history and association with music.

I am hugely excited about our second festival which will build on the enormous success of last year.

See you in May!

Fiachra Garvey,
Founder and Artistic Director

Russborough House is the obvious choice of venue for our festival, with its stunning surroundings and the well documented love for music for which the Beit family was renowned.

Sir Alfred was a keen amateur pianist and both he and Lady Beit were avid concert and opera patrons.

I hope they would be proud that such an event is being hosted in their magnificent home.

St-Marys-Blessington---2

St Mary’s Church is one of the most historic buildings in Blessington, acoustically superb with strong connections to Russborough House.

The church graveyard is the resting place of Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, members of the Milltown family and “The Highland Lady in Ireland” Elizabeth Smith. I am delighted to announce that our 2018 finale concert will be held at St Mary’s Church.

The artists for the 2018 West Wicklow Festival are, internationally renowned clarinet virtuoso Julian Bliss, principal cellist of Scottish Chamber Orchestra Philip Higham, the captivating UK based Benyounes String Quartet, star Irish baritone Gavan Ring and our dynamic and award winning Founder and Artistic Founder Fiachra Garvey.

Julian Bliss is one of the world’s finest clarinettists excelling as a concerto soloist, chamber musician, jazz artist, masterclass leader and tireless musical explorer. He has inspired a generation of young players as guest lecturer and creator of his Conn-Selmer range of clarinets. Julian has played at most of the world’s leading festivals and venues including Gstaad, Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Verbier, Wigmore Hall (London) and Lincoln Center (New York). We are delighted to have Julian in Wicklow and no doubt he will be a big hit!

Philip Higham has been described as ‘possessing that rare combination of refined technique with subtle and expressive musicianship… all the qualities of a world-class artist’ (The Strad). Solo appearances include with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. His USA debut received high praise in the Washington Post. Acclaimed recordings include the Britten Solo Suites, which won the title of ‘Instrumental disc of the month’ in Gramophone Magazine and the complete Bach Suites. Philip’s late night solo Bach concert at Russborough in particular promises to be a real highlight!

Winners of the 2012 1st International Sandor Vegh String Quartet Competition in Budapest, the Benyounes Quartet is gaining a reputation as one of the most engaging, dynamic and successful quartets to have emerged from the UK in recent years. Notable appearances include Vienna Konzerthaus, Wigmore Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Festival Quatuors a Bordeaux, Dartington, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Bellerive Festival, North Norfolk Festival, Mondsee Festival, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, Verbier Festival and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. The quartet are artistic directors of Alfriston Summer Music. The style and panache of the Benyounes quartet is not to be missed and everyone in Wicklow is in for a real treat!

Gavan Ring is one of Ireland and Europe’s leading baritones. Prizewinner at Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, other awards include the Southbank Sinfonia Award for Orchestral Song, the National Concert Hall Dr Bernadette Greevy Bursary and the Cuisine de France John Count McCormack Bursary. Opera roles include Morales Carmen, Nardo La Finta Giardiniera, Guglielmo Cosi fan tutte; Figaro Il barbiere di Siviglia, Schaunard La Bohème , Der Steuermann Tristan und Isolde, Dr Falke Die Fledermaus, Dancaire Carmen and Yamadori Madama Butterfly. Gavan’s song and aria recital will be the hottest ticket in town on Festival Sunday!

Fiachra Garvey has been applauded internationally for his infectious enthusiasm and technical comfort. He was 1st Prizewinner at the Jaques Samuel Competition, London and made his Fazioli and Wigmore Hall debuts as a result. Fiachra has also been a prizewinner at Dublin AXA, EU Prague, Collioure France and was 2011 Rising Star of the NCH Dublin. Concerto appearances have included Janácek Philharmonic, RTE Symphony and RTE Concert Orchestra. Fiachra has performed extensively across Europe, Asia and the Americas, most recently he completed a concert tour of China. Fiachra is a board member of the Dublin International Piano Competition and a member of the award winning Ducasse trio.

We are delighted that Fiachra has successfully established a festival in his native Wicklow, fulfilling a long-held ambition. Based on the success of the 2017 festival, 2018 promises to be a highlight on the Irish cultural calendar!

Artists

Days

Composers

The Artists

BENYOUNES QUARTET

Currently celebrating their 10th anniversary season the Benyounes Quartet has established a unique musical voice with international accolades including 2nd prize at both the 2014 Orlando International String Quartet Competition and the 2012 International Sandor Vegh String Quartet Competition in Budapest. They are also laureates of the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition.

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The Benyounes has established a presence at major venues including Vienna Konzerthaus, Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and festivals such as Budapest Spring, Quatuors a Bordeaux, Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, Aldeburgh and West Cork. The quartet has had the pleasure to play chamber music with internationally renowned artists including Julian Bliss, Philip Higham, Jeremy Young, Navarra quartet, Gareth Hulse, Ben Johnson and Philippe Bernold. Since 2015 the Benyounes have taken over the Artistic Directorship of Alfriston Summer Music, a highly successful festival that is in it’s 13th year, set in the heart of the South Downs.

Outreach and education work has always been important to the quartet and they have become known for their unique workshops and communication skills with young people. )The quartet is regularly engaged in various cross-art projects, most notably with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance and with the award winning jazz group ‘Empirical’, performing in the London Jazz Festival and appearing on their album, ‘Tabula Rasa’. In 2012 the quartet founded Quercus Ensemble, a mixed chamber ensemble based in Northern Ireland. They are currently involved in the ground-breaking Inclusive Creativity project supported by the Gulbenkian and PRS Foundation which has resulted in a tour of a new work for string quartet and Acoustronic, a group of young disabled musicians using new music technology.

The quartet has an ongoing commitment to new music, and has championed contemporary works by both established and emerging composers throughout their career. In recent years the quartet has explored works by neglected women composers of the past and premiered a number of new works by composers such as Philip Cashian, Simon Bainbridge and Poul Ruders. In the 2018/19 season they are thrilled to be working closely with the esteemed British composer John Woolrich on a new project ‘Four to One’.

Formed at the Royal Northern College of Music, the Benyounes Quartet went on to win the Royal Philharmonic Society’s prestigious Julius Isserlis Scholarship, funding their studies with Professor Gabor Takacs–Nagy in Geneva. The quartet held the Richard Carne Junior Fellowship at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (2011-13) and is currently resident at Bangor University.

Their debut recording of Mozart Piano Concertos with pianist Jeremy Young was released on Meridian Records to critical acclaim. They featured on Champs Hill Records complete works for string quartet by Mendelssohn (BBC Magazine’s critics choice 2014) and their forthcoming disc for Champs Hill will be released Summer 2018.

www.benyounesquartet.com

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FIACHRA GARVEY

1st prizewinner at the 2012 Jaques Samuel Competition, London, Fiachra made his Fazioli Auditorium (Italy) and Wigmore Hall debuts in 2013. Fiachra is a prizewinner of the AXA Dublin International Piano Competition (Brennan Prize and McCullough Bursary), EU Piano Competition Prague (concerto finalist), 3rd Soirees-Concours Internationales de Piano a Collioure, France (Audience award) and received the 2011 “Rising Star” award from the National Concert Hall Dublin, which subsequently led to a series of concerto and solo debuts.

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Fiachra Garvey graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, London in 2013 with 1st class honours and distinction in the MA in Music Performance. This follows a 1st class honours B.A. in Music Performance from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2011 and a 1st class honours DipMus (performance and teaching) from the RIAM in 2008.

1st prizewinner at the 2012 Jaques Samuel Competition, London, Fiachra made his Fazioli Auditorium (Italy) and Wigmore Hall debuts in 2013. He has also been a prizewinner at AXA Dublin International Piano Competition (Brennan Prize and McCullough Bursary), EU Piano Competition Prague (concerto finalist), 3rd Soirees-Concours Internationales de Piano a Collioure, France (Audience award) and Feis Ceoil Dublin (Morris Grant Bursary and Mabel Swainson award). The National Concert Hall Dublin awarded Fiachra the “Rising Star” prize in 2011, which subsequently led to a series of concerto and solo debuts.

Concerto appearances include Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini with the Janáček Philharmonic, Tchaikovsky with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra /Cambridge Symphony Orchestra / UCD Symphony Orchestra, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Grieg with the RTE Concert Orchestra, Prokofiev no 3 with the RIAM Symphony Orchestra and Grieg with the Hibernian Orchestra.

Recent highlights include the first solo recital at Google Dublin, a series of solo and two piano recitals in Japan, a tour of China including giving masterclasses at the Beijing Conservatory of Music, as well as appearances at Spoleto Festival Italy, St. John’s Smith Square, St. Martin in the Fields, Brighton Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Bridgewater Hall Manchester, Wigmore Hall London and The Geneva Festival, Switzerland.
Upcoming major concerts include Poulenc’s double piano concerto with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, a residency at Snape Maltings Aldeburgh and the complete works by Beethoven and Bach for cello and piano in 2018 at the National Concert Hall.

Fiachra’s debut CD “For the Piano”, under the Lyric FM label, was released in 2012: “brings a deep and infectious enthusiasm, combined with insight and technical comfort.” (Sunday times). His second CD, a live performance from Wigmore Hall, was released in 2014.

Fiachra is the Founder and Artistic Director of the West Wicklow Festival, Ireland, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Dublin International Piano Competition.

www.fiachragarvey.com

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JULIAN BLISS

Julian Bliss is one of the world’s finest clarinettists excelling as a concerto soloist, chamber musician, jazz artist, masterclass leader and tireless musical explorer.
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He has inspired a generation of young players as guest lecturer and creator of his Conn-Selmer range of affordable clarinets, and introduced a substantial new audience to his instrument.

Born in the UK, Julian started playing the clarinet age 4, going on to study in the U.S. at the University of Indiana and in Germany under Sabine Meyer. The breadth and depth of his artistry are reflected in the diversity and distinction of his work.In recital and chamber music he has played at most of the world’s leading festivals and venues including Gstaad, Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Verbier, Wigmore Hall (London) and Lincoln Center (New York).

As soloist, he has appeared with a wide range of international orchestras, from the Sao Paolo Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Paris, and Auckland Philharmonia, to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2012 he established the Julian Bliss Septet, creating programmes inspired by King of Swing, Benny Goodman, and Latin music from Brazil and Cuba that have gone on to be performed to packed houses in festivals, Ronnie Scott’s (London), the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam) and across the U.S.

Recent album releases receiving rave reviews from critics, album of the week spots and media attention, include his recording of Mozart and Nielsen’s Concertos with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Recent chamber discs include a new piece for clarinet & string quartet by David Bruce – Gumboots – inspired by the gumboot dancing of miners in South Africa and a recital album of Russian and French composers with American pianist, Bradley Moore.

This season’s highlights include an exciting new concerto by Wayne Shorter, with the Argovia Philharmonic, extensive USA tour with his septet, and chamber concerts with the Carducci Quartet.

www.julianbliss.com

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PHILIP HIGHAM

Principal Cellist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Philip became the first UK cellist to win 1st Prize in the Bach Leipzig Competition in 2008 and followed this with major prizes in 2009 Lutoslawski Competitions and the 2010 Grand Prix Emmanuel Feuermann in Berlin. Philip has appeared as soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra (broadcast by BBC Radio 3), the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

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Born in Edinburgh, Philip studied with Ruth Beauchamp at St Mary’s Music School and subsequently at the RNCM with Emma Ferrand and Ralph Kirshbaum. He also enjoyed mentoring from Steven Isserlis. In 2008 he became the first UK cellist to win 1st Prize in the Bach Leipzig competition, and followed it with major prizes in 2009 Lutoslawski Competitions, and the 2010 Grand Prix Emmanuel Feuermann in Berlin. He was selected for representation by Young Classical Artist Trust between 2009 and 2014.

He has appeared as soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra at Bridgewater Hall (broadcast by BBC Radio 3), the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He has also given concerto performances with Sinfonia Cymru, Edinburgh Youth Orchestra and Southbank Sinfonia. He has given recitals at the Wigmore Hall, St. John’s Smith Square, Brighton Festival, the City of London Festival, Gower Festival and Lichfield Festival, and further afield in Germany, Istanbul and Washington DC. He has also performed at the Britten Centenary in Aldeburgh (broadcast by BBC Radio 3), the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Three Choirs Festival, Branscombe Festival and Salisbury Festival. In 2014 he performed the complete Bach Suites in Tokyo at the Musashino Cultural Foundation, and is set to give another complete cycle at Wigmore Hall in 2017.

Philip has been described as ‘possessing that rare combination of refined technique with subtle and expressive musicianship… all the qualities of a world-class artist’ (The Strad), and has been praised for his‘expansive but tender playing’ (Gramophone). His debut recording of the Britten Solo Suites on Delphian was released in 2013 and won the title of ‘Instrumental disc of the month’ in Gramophone Magazine and ‘Instrumental Choice’ in BBC Music Magazine. He has also recently released the complete Bach Suites, to critical acclaim.

Philip was appointed Principal Cello of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in 2016. He is fortunate to play a fine Milanese cello by Carlo Giuseppe Testore, made in 1697, and is grateful for support from Harriet’s Trust.

www.philiphigham.com

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GAVAN RING

Gavan is a multiple national and international prizewinner, most recently being awarded second prize at the 2015 Concorso Lirico Internazionale di Portofino in Italy. Gavan was also awarded second prize at the 2013 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition. Major national awards include the Southbank Sinfonia Award for Orchestral Song, the National Concert Hall Dr Bernadette Greevy Bursary and the Cuisine de France John Count McCormack Bursary.

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Dr Gavan Ring studied at the Schola Cantorum St Finian’s College before reading Education and Music at Dublin City University. A first-class honours Master of Music in Performance graduate from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Gavan also holds the double distinction of being the first opera singer and the youngest candidate to graduate from the RIAM as a Doctor of Music in Performance. Gavan is an almnus of the National Opera Studio in London, the Jerwood Young Artist Programme at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Opera Theatre Company Young Associate Artist Programme.

Gavan is a multiple national and international prizewinner, most recently being awarded second prize at the 2015 Concorso Lirico Internazionale di Portofino in Italy. Gavan was also awarded second prize at the 2013 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition. Major national awards include the Southbank Sinfonia Award for Orchestral Song, the National Concert Hall Dr Bernadette Greevy Bursary and the Cuisine de France John Count McCormack Bursary.Concerts include performances with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and the Scottish Opera Orchestra with recent highlights including Offenbach’s Fantasio under the baton of Sir Mark Elder, Britten’s War Requiem with Mark Padmore and Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore for the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival under the baton of Richard Egarr. Recitals include appearances at Wigmore Hall and the Oxford Lieder Festival with pianists Eugene Asti, Simon Lepper and Graham Johnson.

Opera roles include Morales Carmen, Nardo La Finta Giardiniera and Phoebus The Fairy Queen for Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Guglielmo Cosi fan tutte; Figaro Il barbiere di Siviglia, Manuel La Vida Breve, Schaunard La Bohème and Jake Wallace La Fanciulla del West for Opera North; Bill Bobstay HMS Pinafore and Pluto Orpheus in the Underworld for Scottish Opera; Lieutenant Gordon in the European premiere of Kevin Puts’ Silent Nightand Oompa Loompa The Golden Ticket for Wexford Festival Opera; Figaro Il barbiere di Siviglia and Steuermann Tristan und Isolde for Wide Open Opera; Hartmann Fantasio in concert and recording for Opera Rara; Dr Falke Die Fledermaus for Opera Holland Park; Dancaire Carmen, Cascada The Merry Widow and Yamadori Madama Butterfly for Dublin Lyric Opera Productions and Colas Bastien und Bastienne for Opera Theatre Company.

Discography includes HMS Pinafore (Linn Records 2016), Fantasio (Opera Rara 2014) and Fleischmann: Orchestral Works (RTÉ Lyric FM 2010).

2017/18 season include the roles of Ping in Puccini’s Turandot, Novice’s Friend in Britten’s Billy Budd for Opera North, Horatio in Brett Dean’s Hamlet for Glyndebourne, the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni for Welsh National Opera and Olivier in Strauss’ Capriccio for Garsington Festival Opera plus recitals for BBC Radio 3 and at Wigmore Hall.

Gavan Ring is kindly supported by An Chomhairle Ealaíon/The Arts Council of Ireland.

www.gavanring.co.uk

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Programme

Beethoven: 7 variations on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” WoO46 for cello and piano
Debussy: Sonata for cello and piano
Debussy: Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano
Poulenc: Sonata for clarinet and piano

Interval

Beethoven: Trio in Bb major op 11 for clarinet, cello and piano
Brahms: Trio in a minor op 114 for clarinet, cello and piano

Haydn: String quartet in G major op 76 no 1
Debussy: String quartet in g minor op 10

Interval

Schumann: Piano quintet in Eb major op 44

Brahms: Clarinet quintet in b minor op 115

Interval

Schubert: String quintet in C major D 956

Bach: Cello suite no 3 in C major BWV 1009
Bach: Cello suite no 5 in c minor BWV 1011

10am – 12pm: “Whistle in the Wind” – Musical Trail

Start times: 10am and 11am

Come on a magical musical adventure to Whistleberry Forest!

The creatures of Whistleberry Forest have discovered a little tree growing deep in the woods. However, there are no birds singing, no leaves rustling, and no animals scurrying around its trunk.  This delightful musical trail takes children and accompanying adults on an adventure through the forest where they explore musical soundscapes, sing, dance, and help Ornaith the owl, Sorley the snail, and Faolán the frog bring the little tree to life through music.  

Suitable for children ages 2-6 and their adults. This event will take place outdoors and is subject to suitable weather conditions. Don’t forget to bring your umbrellas and raincoats! 

Whistle in the Wind at West Wicklow Festival is brought to you by Ceol Connected with the support of the National Concert Hall’s Learning & Participation programme. 

10am – 12pm: Musical Maze

Venture through a 200 metre hedge maze, collecting clues and finding musical mysteries around every corner!  In this educational scavenger hunt, children and adults are invited to enter the labyrinth and seek out a series of musical clues and images.  Complete your clue chart, find the statue at the centre – and try not to get lost!

12pm: Family Concert (SOLD OUT!)
After the magical Music Trail, come and join us for a wonderfully entertaining Family Concert! Featuring a selection of familiar tunes, well-known composers and very talented musicians, this Concert will delight, excite and inspire audiences young and old alike! This is a FREE concert but tickets should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment. To book yours, please visit westwicklowfestival.com.

Please note: Children MUST be accompanied by an adult at all times for all activities. 

Rossini: “Largo al factotum” – The Barber of Seville
Verdi: “O Carlo, ascolta … Io morro” – Don Carlo
Debussy: Images Book 2 for solo piano
Quilter: Go, lovely rose / Now sleeps the crimson petal
Schubert: An Sylvia D891 / Ständchen D957 / Erlkönig D328

Interval

Chopin: Barcarolle in F sharp major op 60 / Polonaise in Ab major op 53 “Heroic”
Selection of Irish songs: She is far from the land (Lambert) / Macushla (McMurrough) / The Kerry Dance (Molloy)
Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel

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Book tickets

Thursday 17th May 2018, 8pm
Russborough House
  • Fiachra Garvey
  • Julian Bliss
  • Philip Higham
  • Works by:
  • Beethoven
  • Debussy
  • Poulenc
  • Brahms
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Friday 18th May 2018, 8pm
Russborough House
  • Benyounes Quartet
  • Fiachra Garvey
  • Works by:
  • Haydn
  • Debussy
  • Schumann
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Saturday 19th May 2018, 8pm
Russborough House
  • Julian Bliss
  • Philip Higham
  • Benyounes Quartet
  • Works by:
  • Brahms
  • Schubert
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Saturday 19th May 2018, 10:30pm
Russborough House
  • Philip
  • Higham
  • Works by:
  • Bach
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Sunday 20th May 2017, 4pm
St Mary's Church Blessington
  • Gavan Ring
  • Fiachra Garvey
  • Works by:
  • Rossini
  • Verdi
  • Debussy
  • Quilter
  • Schubert
  • Chopin
  • Vaughan Williams
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17th – 20th May 2018
Russborough House & St Mary's Church Blessington
  • Full Festival Ticket
  • 6 Events
  • 8 Artists
  • 4 Days
  • 16 Composers
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Our tickets are being sold through the National Concert Hall (Box Office – +353 (0)1 4170000). Upon clicking any of the “Book Now” links you will be taken automatically to our booking page on the NCH website. Should you experience any difficulties please call the box office at the number above.

Sponsors & Patrons

Apollo Foundation

(the private charity established by Sir Alfred and Lady Beit)

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Wicklow Tourism

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Locations

Russborough House & Parklands
Blessington, Co. Wicklow.

Saint Mary's Church of Ireland
Main St, Blessington, Co. Wicklow.

Accommodation Options

Avon Ri Lakeshore Resort
www.avonri.com +353 (0) 45 900670

Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort
www.tulfarrishotel.com +353(0)45867600