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Wicklow, or County Wicklow, is located on the eastern border of Ireland, directly below the country's capital city, Dublin. With a diverse range of geographic features, the county is often referred to as the "Garden of Ireland," or in other words, "where Ireland comes out to play." The region is home to the Wicklow Mountains National Park, as well as wide ranges of woodlands and rolling hills. Wildlife that can be found roaming this nature-based county includes deer, golden plovers, badgers, ravens, red foxes, lichens, sedges, and otters. Many of the cities within County Wicklow are relatively small, with Wicklow itself only containing approximately 10,000 residents. Both "church of the toothless one" and "Vikings' Meadow" are translations of the Old Norse word Víkingaló, which is the root form of "Wicklow." Overall, Wicklow's climate is described as maritime with cool summers, a general lack of extreme temperatures, and "mild winters." Rainfall follows a roughly even distribution throughout the year, averaging 85 mm each month. The two exceptions to this are October and November, where averages can reach up to 125 mm.
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County Wicklow is one of many counties that comprise the Republic of Ireland. Though the county was the last one in the country to be formed, its involvement with Ireland as a whole can still be traced back to the early 17th century. With a coast that provides views of the Irish Sea to the region's east and the largest national park in Ireland, County Wicklow has become colloquially known as the "Garden of Ireland." Further elements of the county that contribute to this nickname include nature trails and wide expanses of woodlands. As of the 2016 census, it is estimated that approximately 140,000 people live in the territory.
On the eastern border of the county—overlooking the ocean—can be found the city of Wicklow. Not surprisingly, County Wicklow's name was in honor of the community, which has ruins of ancient Celtic presences that can date back to 600 BC or perhaps earlier. Black Castle and the ruins of the Franciscan friary remain as monuments to these prior inhabitants of the land, though in modern times, roughly 10,000 people live in Wicklow. The city proper is not far from the Wicklow Mountains National Park, of which the primary purpose has been stated to be "the conservation of biodiversity and landscape." Secondary goals of the national park include providing recreation for both visitors and locals. Regarding the acreage that the attraction covers, it is reported to be 20,000 hectares, making it the largest of its kind in Ireland. Beyond its size, park officials have estimated an annual visitorship of just over one million. Any visitors to the park should be made aware that there is free parking open from 8 AM to 8 PM each day and that anyone traveling with a dog should keep it on a leash at all times when exploring the national park.
Apart from the Wicklow Mountains National Park, tourists have often visited the glacial valley of Glendalough in the county's central region, as well as Ireland's oldest weaving mill in Avoca village. Golfing and bird watching are reported to be popular in County Wicklow, with Ireland as a whole described as "one of the nations with the most golf courses per capita in the world."
Based on annual weather reports for County Wicklow, the area is unlikely to reach sub-freezing temperatures during any time of the year. February is the coldest month for the region, on average, seeing temperatures that range from 4 to 7 degrees Celsius. This makes precipitation such as snow nearly impossible for the territory, though County Wicklow has an average of approximately 85 mm of rainfall monthly. Such rain sees a slight peak during the late fall and winter, and November is the rainiest month for the area, with an average of 125 mm. To experience warm-weather activities, July is the county's hottest month. It should be noted, however, that even during July, temperatures are unlikely to stray too far from the month's average of 15.4 degrees Celsius.
Much of County Wicklow's natural appeal comes through its expansive woodlands and rolling hills rather than its climate. Locals refer to Wicklow as the "Garden of Ireland" and explain that it is the territory "where Ireland comes out to play." Mountains, the Irish Sea, the Wicklow Mountains National Park, forests, and lake Liffey all contribute to the geographic diversity of the area. This topography allows visitors of County Wicklow to experience a wide assortment of activities. Surfing, golfing, cycling, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, sailing, fishing, archery, and bird watching are all examples of recommended activities for those visiting Wicklow.
County Wicklow is the 17th largest county in Ireland in terms of geographic area and the 16th largest with regard to population. Located directly below County Dublin—home to Ireland's capital city—Wicklow overlooks the Irish Sea and shares additional borders with the Kildare, Carlow, and Wexford counties. The M11 motorway is the most prominent route of travel in the county, passing near Arklow, Wicklow, Greystones, and Bray before continuing north toward Dublin.
The local wildlife of the county is comprised of mammals, birds, and various species of plants. Deer are reported to be "very common in the uplands," and overall, Wicklow has "one of the highest deer populations in the country." Irish hares, goats, red foxes, badgers, otters, and multiple species of bats can also be found in County Wicklow. Bird watching is one of the county's potential activities, allowing visitors to catch sight of golden plovers, redshanks, whinchats, ravens, snipes, and peregrine falcons. Finally, some of the "diverse range of flora" in the territory includes lichens, ling heathers, crowberries, and sedges.
Wicklow City can trace its origins to approximately 1,000 BC when the first settlers of the region arrived and lived around the banks of the Varty River. Later groups to inhabit the area would include Vikings, and a local mound of earth known as Nati's Mount is thought to contain Viking archaeology. In fact, Wicklow's name comes from the Old Norse word Víkingaló, which is roughly translated to "Vikings' Meadow" or also "church of the toothless one." This latter name was a result of St. Patrick and his followers when they first tried to land at Wicklow. Natives of the region were pelted with stones and one of Patrick's men was struck in the mouth, leading to some of his teeth getting knocked out. The city of Wicklow, in turn, became the namesake of County Wicklow when it was formed in the early 1600s.
Before Wicklow was known as Víkingaló, however, it had the name of Craftsman's Creek. This was translated from the Norse phrase "bac na saor." Over the centuries, County Wicklow would be invaded by various parties, including the Anglo-Normans, the Old English, and the New English. Natives and these intruders often clashed with one another, leading to mass fires and other forms of destruction. One of the area's most notable structures of the time, the Black Castle, was destroyed in 1641 following a sizable attack and subsequent massacre of the Parish Priest along with his congregation.
Today, County Wicklow is home to approximately 140,000 residents. Remnants of the various civilizations which had made the territory their home can be toured as local attractions, including the aforementioned Black Castle. The area has also seen an increase in its popularity for cinematography over the years. Some of the more famous works of film that were set at least in part in County Wicklow include Rawhead Rex, In the Name of the Father, Ballykissangel, and Vikings.
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