Off the beaten track but well worth the journey
COUNTY Wicklow tourist highlights are typically set along the east of the county but Rathcon Farm is working hard to raise the profile of west Wicklow and the area’s natural beauty.
Run by Dermot Page and his father Richard, the business, which started off as a traditional family farm, boasts an eight-and-a-half acre man-made fly fishing lake as well as a clay pigeon shooting ground in a disused quarry.
‘My father was the driving force behind it all and he built the lake in 1999. It is designed to look as natural as possible and it’s a fly-fishing only lake,’ Dermot explained.
Aimed at the more experienced fly-fisher, the lake is the perfect location for those who are serious about their hobby.
Stocked with triploid rainbow and brown trout, weighing between 1kg and 2kg, the lake is well stocked, but levels are set that it is still a challenge to catch a fish, which is what the keen fly-fisher is after. documenting and researching local history, mixing stories with facts, to make it a bit lively’ said Beatrice.
Her stories include the legend of the Deer Stone at Glendalough, in which St Kevin fostered a boy called Foelán. Fostering began when the boy was still a baby. To feed the baby, a doe came down from the mountain each day and waited until she had been milked by one of the monks. The child thrived and ultimately inherited his father’s estate.
‘We encourage as much fly life as possible through the planting of reed and rushes around the lake so the fish are naturally fed. Fly-fishers are allowed to keep a fish but most prefer to catch and re-
Another site on Beatrice’s route are the megalithic tombs in the Dublin Mountains. Known as the ‘giant’s grave’, very little is known about the tombs, and how they could possibly have been built with no technology and hardly any tools.
‘I do have a great interest in the mountains and their history. How did people live? How did they make a living?’ said Beatrice. ‘ The culture goes back so far and there is a wealth lease as the experience and the challenge of the catch is what appeals to them the most.’
While many outdoor pursuits are seasonal, fly-fishing can be enjoyed all year round, although the summer season is a particular draw due to a number of events, a league and other competitions.
‘It is a lovely spot and we will soon be looking to encourage groups to come down to enjoy the bird life, expert talks or to sit and sketch by the lake.’
A second attraction that Rathcon Farm offers is clay pigeon shooting, and this becomes particularly popular ahead of the UK grouse season and the pheasant season from November to January.
‘We offer clay pigeon shooting in an old quarry at the back of the farm. We offer expert tuition in the package and in the summer we do grouse simulation to give shooters practice.
According to Dermot, Grangecon and the wider wwestern part of the county is largely undiscovered and a true hidden gem.
‘West Wicklow is really off the tourist track as we know it. It has a different landscape but it is absolutely stunning. It’s so close to Dublin, only an hour away but the difference is massive. You can’t hear the traffic, you can listen to the birds and relax in a very peaceful environment. Grangecon is a beautiful little village surrounded by rolling hills. There’s nothing better.’
Dermot Page examines the fly-fishing lake at Rathcon Farm in Grangecon.
St Kevin’s Church in Glendalough.