There is a magical, mystical place in a remote wooded valley, deep in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland. Some call it holy, many call it beautiful, but its name is Glendalough. Glen-duh-lock and it means Valley of the Two Lakes. It is a special place indeed. The woods which are now an Irish National Park are soft with moss and colored with that green light that only seems to shine in Irish woods. Hiking trails crisscross the seemingly ancient forest. The Poulanass waterfall rewards intrepid hikers who trek to its heights with a stunning view and the Glendasan river sings its song over the water-worn boulders below.
And then there is the history of this place. The ruins of an Early Christian Monastic settlement sit at the base of the woods. St. Kevin was a hermit and sought solitude and peace here at Glendalough in the 6th century. He later established a monastery here where he found peace with the wild animals of the woods. In fact, many of his legends involve animals, most famous is St. Kevin and the blackbird:
Legend holds that one day, St. Kevin, with his arms outstretched, knelt deep in prayer. As he did so a blackbird nested I his hand & laid an egg. St. Kevin, being compassionate & patient, did not move his hand nor remove the eggs until the birds hatched & flew away.
Today, many structures remain from the time of St. Kevin through later centuries when Glendalough served as a holy center. Tranquility, perhaps, is what the monks sought here and I can attest that here, tranquility remains.
This locus of peace and natural beauty seems to be at wild corner of Ireland, far from modernity but it is, in fact, just about an hour drive from the capital, Dublin. And if you ever go to Ireland, especially if you are only visiting Dublin, make a point to take a day bus trip to Glendalough. (Note: it's quite busy on weekends). It is such a great slice of the history, landscape, & soul of Ireland.
My visits to Glendalough inspired a block print in February's Emerald Post and it is still available HERE.
|We captured this view after we accidently took one of the longer, and much steeper trails that Glendalough has to offer. Pretty much worth it though.|