As glacial valleys go, hey, it’s got to be one of the most beautiful around here.
Or pretty much anywhere across this green and futile land, given that Glendalough is home to a spectacular early medieval monastic settlement from the 6th century.
Think Happy Pear, only without the handstands, the laughter, the moolah, or the rabid followers.
It was the bould St Kevin who brought religion to the Wicklow beauty spot all those centuries ago, whilst missionaries gave way to mercenaries when a not-so-holy bunch brought in the diggers between 1825 and 1957, creating a galena lead mine situated at the head of the valley.
For most people though, Glendalough is a very grand day out, with breathtaking, back-breaking trails aplenty and grand spots for picnics or daredevil rock-climbing, whilst the Wicklow Mountains National Park gang have a little cottage by the bigger of the two lakes boasting postcards, information and date-saving crappers.
As for all that monastic heritage, here’s the official word…
Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the Monastic City.
The ‘City’ consists of a number of monastic remains, and the most impressive being the Round Tower which stands 30m high. The main group of monastic buildings lies downstream near the Round Tower. The grounds were entered through the Gateway, which has two round headed granite arches.
Beyond St. Mary’s Church is the Priest’s House, a 12th Century building in Romanesque style, with an interesting carving of a much earlier date on the lintel of the doorway. Just beyond the Priest’s House is a large granite cross (sixth or seventh century) and the ‘Cathedral’, the largest church on the site, with a nave, chancel and sacristy (11th and 12th C), and St Kevin’s Church.
St Kevin’s Church is commonly known as St Kevin’s Kitchen. This is a barrel-vaulted oratory of hard mica schist with a steeply pitched roof and a round tower belfry (12th C). Approx 200m east of the Church of the Rock is a cavity in the cliff which is known as St Kevin’s Bed or Hermitage.
At the Glendalough site on the road to Laragh, to the right, stands Trinity Church (11th-12th C). Beyond the river about 1.5km to the east of the Cathedral is St. Saviour’s Priory a church with fine Romanesque carvings on the chancel arch and windows.
With free car parking now added, you can find out more about Glendalough on their official site here, go check out our photo galleries on the place here, and find out what other natural outdoor beauties Wicklow has to offer here.
In the meantime, we’ve pulled together some of our favourite Glendalough shots, both very old and new – including some of our own – below. Best viewed with a trusty whiskey flask by your side…
Vintage John Hinde Glendalough Postcard
Glendalough Tourists. Vintage Postcard.
Path to St Kevin’s Bed. Vintage Postcard.
Upper Lake, Glendalough. Vintage Postcard.
Eventide At Glendalough. Vintage Postcard
The Seven Churches, Glendalough. Vintage Postcard
Upper Lake, Glendalough. Colortone Postcard
St Kevin’s Bed Postcard
Vintage St Kevin’s Cross Postcard
Richardson’s Lake Hotel, Glendalough
Glendalough Tower Oct 2019. Pablo Photography
The Tower of Power 30OCT15. Pablo Photography
Another Angle. Pic: Unknown
Through The Tall Window 21JULY19. Pablo Photography
Rainbow Nation 30JUN19. Pablo Photography
McDonald’s: The Early Years. Pic: Pablo Photography
Walk This Way 21JULY19. Pablo Photography
A Feck In The Road 30JUNE19. Pablo Photography
Into De Trees 21JULY19. Pablo Photography
Glendalough In The Snow JUN17. Pic: Michael Tallon
The Big Chill 2DEC16. Alan Currie
The Bigger Chill 2DEC16. Alan Currie
Christmas Is Coming. Pic: Unknown
Chill Out 2016. Pic: Unknown
National Park Swim Sept 2017. Pic: Unknown
The Great Divide 2DEC16. Alan Currie
Getting closer… 2DEC16. Alan Currie
Getting wetter 2DEC16. Alan Currie
Reflected Glory 22AUG15. Pic: Peter Gordon
Mirror Man. Pic: Fran Byrne
Getting there… Pic: Harry Acheson
It Takes A Village 21JULY19. Pablo Photography
Get Your Wicklow Sex Dolls Here! Pic: Pablo Photography
Here, My Deer 21JULY19. Pablo Photography
Follow me… 30OCT15. Pic: Pablo Photography
And on and on… 26DEC15. Pablo Photography
There Goes The Sun 2OCT17. Pic: Albert O’Donnell
Upper Lake Shooting Star. Pic: Albert O’Donnell
Nicely done, young Aoife Hester…
You can check out the official Glendalough website here, and go explore our photo gallery archives on de place here.