A Short History of Blessington Lakes

A Short History of Blessington Lakes

If you are lucky enough to be in the area to witness the majestic Blessington Lakes for yourself, it will be a sight that will stay with you for the rest of your life. The lakes give us not only a great visual treat but a peaceful and content feeling that is hard to compare to anything else. If you were wondering how or why the lakes were formed and what you can do on a visit to them, read on for our fascinating history of this amazing area.

How did the Lakes Form?

In the late 1930s, Dublin (and most of Ireland) had a very poor infrastructure when it came to supplying water to the thousands of people living in the city. The new Government at the time decided to create a reservoir in Blessington to provide Dublin with water. The lake was therefore man-made with the construction of the Poulaphouca Dam and hydroelectric station. The move was not without controversy at the time as communities were uprooted and not all farmers in the area were fully reimbursed for the loss of land. The reservoir is still active today, supplying water and electricity to Dublin and the surrounding areas. Despite initial reservations, the lakes provide great resources to the local area and enhance the natural beauty of Wicklow.

Hidden Village

One fascinating fact about the lakes that isn’t very widely known is that there is an old town under the water. Think of the ancient deserted town of Pompeii, without the lava and tragedy of course! As water levels rose, the lakes gradually submerged over 5000 acres of farmland, bog and even a town which was home to 70 families. In the summer of 2018, an extremely hot and dry summer which had a detrimental effect on Ireland’s water supplies, our staff reported that the walls of the houses, bridges, piers and the remnants of old farm machinery become visible. The village was originally called Ballinahown and some of the people who used to live in the town are still alive today and living locally.

Activities on the Lake

If you would like to visit Blessington there are many activities you can take part in both on and around the lakes. The road around the lake has some of the most stunning views of the area and the 26km round trip will make you see why famed novelist and poet Brendan Behan described it as a: “journey to the jewel of Wicklow”. The area has even featured in many well-known films such as ‘PS. I Love You’.

Many water sports are allowed and encouraged on the lake like rowing & boating and it is used as a training location for the Irish Air Corps. Fishing and angling are also allowed but you need a permit as there is only a small stock of trout. Swimming, diving and anything else that would require you to enter the water are banned for safety reasons. Unfortunately it is not possible to swim in the lakes due to bad currents but the views from the shore provides a wonderful backdrop to a scenic car ride, picnic or long walk.

We count ourselves very lucky here in Tulfarris that the wonderful lakes and surrounds are the backdrop to the magnificent house here with many of our rooms looking directly out onto the water. If you would like to experience luxury in the heart of nature, Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort is a great option for your break. We look forward to welcoming you soon!

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