Things to do in Wicklow: Glendalough

Glendalough

A little sinister looking!

As le boyfriend had Arthur’s Day off we decided to have a little drive in the countryside of County Wicklow. Our first stop was Sally Gap which overlooks Luggala and Lough Tay – also known as the Guinness lakes because A. It’s on Guinness land and B. It looks as though it is made of the stuff.

Recently, a film crew had been camped throughout the summer working on the show Vikings which is set to air in 2013. You can still see where the houses of the temporary viking village once stood. It’s that strip of what looks like beach at the base of the mountain.

It was freezing cold up the top of the hill so it was quickly decided that Tea Time was overdue! We headed down to Roundwood, which claims to be the highest town in Ireland.ย  There is something nice about drinking tea and eating breakfast food at lunchtime!

Tea Roundwood Wicklow

Eventually we did make it to Glendalough and saw the round tower doing the admonitory finger thing. Not unlike Monasterboice. It’s my second time here during my time in Ireland and both visits have had their charm. In March it was freezing, but that meant there was no one around. This time there were plenty of tours, laughing children, and people out for a stroll.

The round tower is not the only thing to see there, but it’s definitely the most iconic. It stands 30 metres high, with the entrance at 3.5 metres above ground. It also had six internal floors. The Irish Annals describe raids against the settlement, so it’s a miracle in itself the tower is in as fine shape as it is. Quite the example of a round tower. It also functions very well as a thinking cap!

Glendalough

Glendalough Round Tower as Hat

Glendalough round tower

One enters the monastic town of Glendalough through a gorgeous granite archway. Once up the stairs you can immediately see the Cathedral. The earliest parts of this structure date from the 12th Century AD and the area within the walls is simply littered with grave stones from that period onward.

Entrance Arch Glendalough

Gravestones Glengalough

Glendough

Church at Glendalough

Graves at Glendalough

Cross Glendalough

St Kevin’s Church sits close to the river and the path down to the Upper and Lower Lakes. It has its own miniature round tower making it look very quaint. St Kevin came to Glendalough as a boy under the tutelage of three holy men (Eoghan, Lochan, and Eanna) and would later return to establish a monastery. Kevin died in AD 618. Already a holy site well before then, this shows just how far Glendalough dates back to. During the Middle Ages it would have been quite the flourishing settlement with workshops, artisans and farming.

Glendalough

Church Glendalough

After strolling around a variety of very old architecture we made our way down to the Lower Lake through the woods. You can see why St. Kevin had his spiritual encounter here!

Glendalough

Woods Glendalough

It was a very overcast day where even two in the afternoon looked as though the sun was setting!

Lower Lake Glendalough

Lower Lake

On the way back to the car we stumbled across these very fun looking contraptions!

Cardboard formula 1 car one

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