Dower House



Address:  Rossanagh, Ashford, County Wicklow
Contact: Mrs. P. A. Butler
Tel: +353 (0)404 40168

Location: Mid East Wicklow, Ashford

Description: Rossanagh (Wood Of The Ford) and demesne was purchased by William Tighe c.1741. The following year, he acquired Rossanagh Lower on which The Dower House, Rossanagh was built towards the end of the eighteenth century. The Tighe family lived in this part of County Wicklow for over two hundred years and during that time had associations with many well known personalities such as poets, Thomas Moore and Mary Blachford Tighe, artists George Romney and Maria Spilsbury-Taylor and politicians Henry Grattan and William Pitt, the Younger.

The indefatigable Mrs Delany, well-known social commentator, diarist, artist and friend of Dean Jonathan Swift, commenting on Rossanagh demesne in May 1752, wrote: “It is a very pretty place… neatly kept, and capable of great improvement, which he [William Tighe] is setting about with all speed.” It is interesting to note that as early as 1733, A.C. Forbes had estimated that the largest tree in Ireland was a Spanish Chestnut and was seen growing in the Rossanagh demesne possessing a girth of ‘thirty feet at four-and-a-half-feet’. It was under this tree that Methodist preacher, the Reverend John Wesley preached during his visit to Rossanagh in June, 1789.

The Gardens: The Gardens surrounding this eighteenth century house were laid out towards the end of the nineteenth century with plantings of many fine specimens including Rhododendron Arboreum, Magnolia Soulangeana ‘Alba’, and Camellia Japonica. Also included are a number of specimen mature trees, including a fine Chilean myrtle, Luma Apiculata, planted c. 1880 and believed to have come from Woodstock, Co. Kilkenny. There is also a wild flower meadow which is at its best towards the end of June beginning of July.

When the Butler family acquired the property, a formal white garden in a sheltered enclosure behind the house was added together with box hedging and a small garden house. At its peak in June, when the white roses are in bloom, this ‘quietly elegant garden’ is a shimmering mass of snowy blossom and silvery foliage and was described by Jane Powers, gardening correspondent, Irish Times as one of Wicklow’s finest gardens (Irish Times Magazine, ‘Garden County’) The gardens are open each year in June during the Wicklow Gardens Festival (June and July) in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.

We are delighted that people enjoy visiting the gardens and sharing them with us. The income which we receive from visitors makes a vital contribution towards the work carried out by the Irish Cancer Society (Charity N.: CHY5863 (Ireland)) whose mission is to ensure fewer people get cancer and those that do have better outcomes.

Directions: Travelling south on M11, take exit n. 16. Rathnew/Ashford/Wicklow exit. Before entering Rathnew village take the turn on the left (R761) and continue for approximately half a mile. Entrance is on the left before Hunters Hotel and Newrath Bridge. Travelling north on M11 take the Ashford/Rathnew exit and follow signs for Rathnew. From here on, same directions apply for travelling on M11, please see above.

Open: May and June to groups of two or more – by appointment only.  Tel:  +353(0)40440168 or email:

Admission: €5 per person

Charity Sponsored: Irish Cancer Society

Facilities: Parking.  Partially accessible to Wheel chairs. No dogs (guide-dogs only), picnics or prams. Children must be supervised. Please contact Mrs P.A.Butler, The Dower House, Rossanagh, Ashford, Co. Wicklow – Tel/Fax: 0404 40168 or email:

GPS Coordinates: N 53 00.179 W 6 05.155

View Wicklow Garden Festival 2012 in a larger map



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