Your Wicklow wedding in an historical setting…

If you want to hold your wedding somewhere with more than just natural beauty, somewhere that also brings with it a rich history, then Avon Rí Lakeshore Resort in Wicklow, Ireland, is the ideal choice.

Avon Rí and Blessington Lakes (Poulaphuca Reservoir)

Early in the 20th century, the land where Avon Rí is built overlooked a valley carved out by the River Liffey and the King’s River. The latter inspired us to choose the name Avon Rí and when we saw how stunning the views were across the valley, we knew that we’d found somewhere very special.

The Blessington Lakes are, in fact, a reservoir. They were created in 1944 when the valley was flooded, which is why you’ll sometimes hear them referred to as the Poulaphuca Reservoir.

We knew that when we built Avon Rí here, people would want to come and stay to explore the picturesque countryside, perhaps even to enjoy some water sports or land-based activities, before unwinding in our comfortable accommodation to enjoy some traditional Irish hospitality.

In Avon Rí’s main complex, you can view our extensive gallery of black and white photos detailing the story of the reservoir, the Blessington area and the locals from days gone by. The display starts in the reception area, spreading out along the hallway and upstairs by the staircase.

Click images to enlarge.

Blessington Town

When it was first established, Blessington was known as Baile Coimín. It used to be the site of three different churches – Kilmalum, Three Castles and Burgage and records show that in 1547 there were two chaplains, one based at Burgage and the other at Three Castles.

Back then, the church building was in a prominent position above the Liffey and research suggests that it was an important ecclesiastical settlement back in the early days of the Irish Christian period.

In 1547, the area was renamed Burgage, which seems to have been derived from ‘Buirghis’ (pronounced Burris), meaning borough. That name was changed again in 1683 when the village and church was built, becoming Blessington, as it’s still known today. It is believed that this came from ‘Blessing’, as in a gift or favour, a reference to the prized nature of the area.

Political history

Blessington used to return two MPs to Parliament until the Union. As compensation for this loss of standing, the Marquis of Downshire received £15,000, a princely sum in those days.

In 1669, Charles II created the Manor of Blessington for Michael Boyle, the then Archbishop of Dublin, who was also the cousin of the First Earl of Cork. Boyle was responsible for creating the village, which was just one street at that time, as well as erecting the Protestant parish church.

He also constructed the brick mansion that stood in Blessington Demesne until it was destroyed by fire in 1760. It must have been an impressive sight back then, surrounded as it was by 410 acres, including an extensive deer park of 340 acres, the whole estate marked by a brick wall along the border.

In 1678, Boyle became the last ecclesiastical Lord Chancellor of Ireland and moved to Armagh as his duties demanded. However, he never lost his love of Blessington and frequently returned. As was the usual custom back then, he dedicated a part of the estate for a church, which he paid for, including the furnishing. The bells that remain from this church are date stamped 1682.

However, in 1798, Blessington village was attacked by dissidents and razed to the ground.

You can still see remnants of that early village if you look carefully. For example, in the graveyard, you’ll find St. Mark’s Cross, a 14-foot granite cross recovered from the site of the early Burgage church, which is now buried in the depths of Blessington Lakes.

When you get married at Avon Rí Lakeshore Resort, you become part of its rich history; it’s the perfect place to build your own personal family traditions.

Here is a lovely video of Poulaphuca Reservoir (Blessington Lakes) as it is now. Credits to Martin Blake.