Glendalough Monastic Site is a breathtakingly beautiful valley of two lakes cradled by round, forested mountains. Steeped in legend and sanctity, it will forever be associated with one man. St. Kevin, once a prince of Leinster, became a hermit beside the Upper Lake in the 6th century. Other monks soon followed and a monastic city of great renown and learning was founded.
Today Glendalough still retains the same timeless aura of one of Ireland’s sacred places. Ruins spread throughout the valley and cluster around the lakes. A 110-foot round tower—over a thousand years old—stands in the well-kept cemetery. The oratory, called St. Kevin’s Kitchen, has a unique round bell-tower, and St. Saviour’s Church has fine Irish-Romanesque carvings. The waterfall should not be missed.
Try to avoid weekends when Glendalough is crowded to the bursting point with tourists. Go very early on a weekday morning or in the late afternoon or evening and savor the heavenly solitude just as St. Kevin did. Wander through the enchanting landscape in the footsteps of long-dead monks, soaking in the serene atmosphere of another time and place.
Free parking is available near the visitor’s center and very limited parking is just outside the entrance gateway near the river. Admission is free but there is a charge for the visitor’s center and guided tours. Parking near the upper lake is currently €4 per car.
© 2011 Michele Erdvig
“Ireland Travel Expert”
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