First licensed in 1608 as a Coaching Inn on the old Dublin-Wexford highway, these premises became a very popular staging post for merchants engaged in commerce between Dublin and the South-East. A typical Tuesday in December 1829 saw the Dublin coach arriving at 1pm having completed its five hour journey, with a compliment of nine passengers - four inside and five on the roof.
Woodenbridge Hotel at the turn of the Century.
The guests then assembled before cosy coach house fires where their flagging spirits and frozen bodies were revived by potent Woodenbridge punch.
Dinner then would have consisted of: Hare Soup, Oysters, Chicken and Mutton, followed by Apple Fritters and Porter. Before all of this was completed the Carlow coach would also have arrived and the Wexford coach would have been due in at 2.30pm.
For centuries the area has been steeped in the evolving history of the Irish Nation. At the Meeting of the Waters in Avoca, we find the poetically inspirational paradise of Thomas Moore (1779-1852), who composed some of his greatest works beside the confluence of the two rivers. At Avondale we find the ancestral home of Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the 19th century Irish Parliamentary Party, who was popularly known as ‘the uncrowned King of Ireland’, having become the most influential politician of his age in the British House of Commons.
Across the road from the hotel we find the location of John Redmond’s address to the monster meeting of the Wicklow Volunteers, on Sunday September 20th 1914, at the outbreak of the Great War. Redmond, who was the legitimate political successor to Parnell, exhorted all Irishmen to fight the war in defence of ‘morality, freedom and religion.’
The man who was to have the greatest influence on the independent Irish State, Eamon De Valera, actually spent his honeymoon at the Woodenbridge Hotel. The room in which Eamon and Sinéad De Valera stayed on their honeymoon is now named in their honour, and is an impressive and popular feature of the hotel.
Michael Collins the revolutionary hero of the War of Independence also stayed at the hotel while engaging in secret meetings with senior British Army officers in February 1922.
More Recent Developments
The hotel was purchased by the O'Brien family in 1993, and over the next number of years, while conscious of their responsibility to maintain the original charm of the hotel, an extensive refurbishment was undertaken to bring the hotel up to the standards required of a modern hotel.
In 1996 this family run hotel in Wicklow added 12 more rooms, nine of which have their own balconies overlooking Woodenbridge Golf Club, and some of the country’s most spectacular scenery.
In 2004 the newer section of the hotel, Woodenbridge Lodge, was opened;
comprising 40 ensuite bedrooms
with complimentary Wi-Fi access,
20 of which have their own balconies overlooking the Aughrim River.
The lodge itself is surrounded by well kept gardens, and has it very own river walk.
In 2008, the hotel celebrated its 400th birthday and received much publicity as a result, to see some of the articles, have a look at the press page.
This Wicklow hotel is still family owned and run.