In St Kevin’s Footsteps.
Last Friday week, I walked in the footsteps of St Kevin in Glendalough. Well maybe not exactly. Nowadays you can walk around the two lakes of the Wicklow beauty spot partly on a boardwalk, partly on a stoney road.
Kevin is reputed to have founded the monastic settlement here in the 6th century but the majestic valley was carved long before that by a glacier. For six centuries after Kevin’s death in 618, Glendalough flourished and the Irish Annals contain references to the deaths of abbots and raids on the settlement.
Today’s “raiders” come in buses and cars. It is not too far from Dublin so, in the holiday season, you’ll see big groups of tourists and schoolchildren. And rightly so, as this is an important historical sight. It is very close to Dublin, so if you want to enjoy the peace and quiet of ancient times then maybe you should head there in the off-peak months or early in the day.
The remains of the settlement, now called the Monastic City, are mainly close together. And the 30 metre round tower is the outstanding feature. I read there that the tower was the campanile for the community, that the bells were rung to call the monks to meetings and prayers. I always thought that these towers were a refuge against raiding Vikings. Perhaps a bit of both?
Having visited the City, we headed off for a walk. There are quite a few of them here and in the adjacent Wicklow National Park. We started on the Green Road, our destination the Upper Lake. At a fork, we took the boardwalk (much of it goes through boggy ground) past the Lower Lake; the boardwalk made it easy for us, kept us nice and dry.
At the Upper Lake, there are fine views of the water, the mountains and a waterfall in the distance. Of course, you may walk around the Upper Lake as well! There is also the opportunity for refreshments here, an opportunity heartily indulged by the bunches of schoolchildren.
We completed the loop (about 3 kilometres) by taking the Green Road back to that fork mentioned earlier; now we were on slightly higher ground all the while with the forest all around us. A very pleasant walk indeed. From the fork, it is a very short distance back to the car park.
Admission to Glendalough, open all year round, is free though there is a charge to enter the Visitor Centre which has an interesting exhibition and an audio-visual show. French, Italian and Spanish guided tours are available all year by advance booking.