Glendalough

17 Oct

This past weekend I toured through County Wicklow on the Wild Wicklow bus tour. After spending a few hours traveling through the Wicklow Mountains our last stop on the tour was Glendalough. Once again, I was overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the surrounding area. I was excited to see the round tower since we had discussed the history of Glendalough in class. I was surprised to hear on our tour that it was one of the most visited and photographed sites in Ireland.

Touring the monastic site was spectacular. I could not believe the impeccable condition of the stone structures throughout the settlement that are still standing today. During the 6th century, St. Kevin founded this monastic city (Glendalough). Unfortunately, much of the city was destroyed by the British troops in the twentieth century; however, the Round Tower, St. Kevin’s Kitchen, and St. Kevin’s Cross still remain standing today (Wikipedia).

The Round Tower is 30 meters tall, yet the entrance to the tower is 3.5 meters from the ground (Wicklow Mountain). The exact reasoning is unknown but several theories exist, one explaining that the tower was used for shelter during times of attack (Wikipedia). It is constructed of mica schist and granite reaching seven stories high. The Round Tower is one of the most noticeable monuments in the monastic city.

The Round Tower

The Round Tower

St. Kevin's Cross

St. Kevin’s Cross

One interesting fact that I learned on our tour was that St. Kevin’s Kitchen was originally used for prayer by the monks in the monastery. However, the monks traditionally used large candles, which created a great deal of smoke. Therefore, the people living in the surrounding community beyond the monastic city walls assumed that it must be the kitchen rather than a church. To this day, it is still called St. Kevin’s kitchen.

St. Kevin's Kitchen

St. Kevin’s Kitchen

Lastly, after viewing the monastic city, we walked about fifteen minutes along a beautiful trail to the Upper Lake. I was fascinated to learn that the Glendalough Valley was created during the Ice Age by glaciers, eventually forming the two lakes (Glendalough).  In fact, Glendalough actually means “glen of two lakes” (Wikipedia).

The Upper Lake

The Upper Lake

Overall, I had a wonderful experience exploring County Wicklow. I am happy that I decided to go on the tour and visit all of these captivating historical sites.

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