Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, in the south east of Ireland, and is one of the country’s most beautiful visitor destinations and has been enchanting people for thousands of years. It is also home to one of the foremost monastic sites in Ireland, this early medieval monastic settlement was founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. Glendalough has a rich history, archaeology and abundant wildlife.
The name derives from the Irish “Glen da locha” meaning the glen of two lakes, being the Upper and Lower Lakes, these dark and mysterious lakes are nestled into the deep forested valley. The area is naturally rich in beauty with its scenic lakes and valleys. There are nine walks and trails around the area, that allow visitors to admire its beautiful natural setting and the tranquility. They vary in length from an easy half an hour stroll to a lengthy four hour hillwalk, just ensure that you follow the well maintained paths.
The monuments of the monastic city are accessible all year round. The city would have been surrounded by a circular wall, located within these walls are a number of monastic remains, the most impressive is the Round Tower, there are seven churches, a gateway into the settlement with a Sanctuary Stone, two High Crosses, the Priest’s House, a graveyard, St Kevin’s Bed and St Kevin’s Cell, these surviving structures all date between the 10th and 12th century. Other items to see in the park, include archaeological features such as tombs and cairns.
The area was rich in natural minerals and lead, zinc and copper were mined here from the 1790’s until 1957 when the mines closed. Remains of the mining village can be accessed only by foot and are found here in the National Park.
The interactive Visitor Centre, features friendly and knowledgeable staff as well as an audio visual display, an interesting exhibition of carved cross slabs and bullaun stones and a model of the monastic site are on show. There are multi-lingual leaflets available. The centre is open throughout the year.
Glendalough has so much to offer to its visitors, not least its natural beauty, it is a deeply tranquil and spiritual place with a rugged romanticism associated with it.