The Monastic Settlement of Glendalough Co Wicklow, Ireland

A Tour of Legends Part 2

Written Irish legends born at the Monastic Settlement of Glendalough

Glencree valley while driving through the Wicklow Mountains on the way to the Sally Gap by Christa Thompson

Glencree valley while driving through the Wicklow Mountains on the way to the Sally Gap by Christa Thompson

Glendalough, meaning “the glen of two lakes”, is probably one of the most important locations in Ireland with relation to legend, myth and lore. It is there, at the Monastic Settlement of Glendalough where, the earliest known written Irish stories that survive were transcribed. The Leabhar na h-Uidhre (Book of the Dun Cow) and the Book of Leinster were copied as far back as the 12th century, and are thought to have been created in writing somewhere around the 7th century. Before then, these stories were passed down from generations by word of mouth.

The Fairytale Traveler’s Journey

The forest seems magical on the way to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

The forest seems magical on the way to the Hellfire Club photo by Christa Thompson

Just after stumbling down from Montpelier Hill, the pedestal of Dublin’s eerie and ominous Hellfire Club, Visions of the Past writer Ed Hannon and I were on the road again, heading straight for the Monastic Settlement of Glendalough in Co Wicklow.

If you missed A Tour of Legends, Dublin Ireland Part 1 the Hellfire Club, read it here!

Co Wicklow

Co Wicklow is known as “the garden of Ireland” for its rolling mountains, steep valleys, and emerald landscapes. While driving through the winding road that leads to Sally Gap, and onward to its village of Glendalough, you can’t help but feel like you are wrapped in a quilt of greens, yellows and if you’re lucky blue skies.

Driving through the Wicklow Mountains by Christa Thompson

Driving through the Wicklow Mountains by Christa Thompson

On the road…

Where I enjoyed the best Shepard's Pie in the teenie weenie town of Enniskerry, after a hike to the Hellfire Club by Christa Thompson

Where I enjoyed the best Shepard’s Pie in the teenie weenie town of Enniskerry, after a hike to the Hellfire Club by Christa Thompson

Before we went too deep into the mountains, we decided to stop for a quick bite in Enniskerry. Enniskerry is a quaint country village with charming homes and shaded, winding roads. Ed was nice enough to introduce me to Poppies, where I had the best Shepard’s pie ever. It was perfect, I highly recommend you go there if you are taking this journey.

Where I enjoyed the best Shepard's Pie in the teenie weenie town of Enniskerry, after a hike to the Hellfire Club by Christa Thompson

Where I enjoyed the best Shepard’s Pie in the teenie weenie town of Enniskerry, after a hike to the Hellfire Club by Christa Thompson

I found the drive to Glendalough to be serene and relaxing. I don’t think I have ever gone that long in a car without seeing anyone. I can see why Saint Kevin chose this glacial valley as his retreat over a thousand years ago. There we were, wrapped in these mountains and valleys as far as I could see; time made no difference here, and the only company we had were the magpies and the sheep. It was complete solitude. It was nothing short of just what I needed.

Driving through the Wicklow Mountains on the way to the Sally Gap by Christa Thompson

Driving through the Wicklow Mountains on the way to the Sally Gap by Christa Thompson

 

Blanket bog! Driving through the Wicklow Mountains on the way to the Sally Gap by Christa Thompson

Blanket bog! Driving through the Wicklow Mountains on the way to the Sally Gap by Christa Thompson

We stopped at Glenmacnass Waterfall which lends one of Ireland’s most magnificent views of the Wicklow Mountains. On a clear day, the site is simply stunning. This is a perfect spot to have a packed lunch and enjoy the clean, fresh air. We took in the purity of the landscape, but eventually we had to press onward to the Monastic Settlement of Glendalough.

Click through the photos for more pictures of the awe inspiring Wicklow Mountains

The Monastic Settlement in Glendalough

Monastic Settlement of Gelndalough

It feels almost magical to walk through this gateway and into the Monastic Settlement of Gelndalough by Christa Thompson

There is a stillness in time, a quietness in the air that embraces your senses when you arrive to the Monastic Settlement of Glendalough. We were standing on a fortress of time. Nearly 1,400 years welcomed us into one of the most peaceful and magical glens in all of Ireland.

Monastic Settlement of Gelndalough

St. Kevin spent 7 years as a hermit priest …photo by Christa Thompson

This sanctuary, founded by Saint Kevin in the early 6th century, was a sanctuary for deep connection with nature and spirituality. Most of what is standing now is from the 10th through 12th centuries, much of it It destroyed by English troops in 1398. Today it stands to be described as one of the most important sites of monastic ruins in all of Ireland. It was here, in the quiet and peaceful serenity where Saint Kevin was completely submerged in nature, and where he found peace.

Monastic Settlement of Gelndalough

I love twilight, the sun makes the best entrances into pictures during this time of day… by Christa Thompson

Ed and I were fortunate enough to be among just a few onlookers at the settlement. The air was brisk and twilight was upon us which, made the shadows of the ruins begin to take stage.

Monastic Settlement of Gelndalough

The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul by Christa Thompson

Click through the photos for more details about the settlement and St. Kevin


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

25 Comments on this post

  1. Beautiful photos. (:

    deshipley / Reply
  2. I was here too my first time in Ireland. There’s something both beautiful and eerie about the area.

    Hannah / Reply
  3. That’s beautiful countryside. Haven’t been to Ireland yet but in the back of my mind is a multi-day hike through areas similar to this. Really like the cemetery photos, too.

    Bob R / Reply
  4. We haven’t been to Ireland yet, but this post makes me want to go more than ever. Your photos are great!

  5. What a wonderful tour, i loved the scenic countryside and the settlement, I really enjoy visiting places built with stone everywhere and even the walls are magnificent to see in their condition and that cemetery is pretty cool!

    noelmorata / Reply
  6. Really every single time I see yet another post and pictures about Ireland, I ask myself why I have never been there yet?!!?!?!

    Marysia Maciocha / Reply
  7. I was here a couple of years ago and would love to go back one day. In fact, I should just go to Ireland because aside from Dublin and Glendalough I haven’t seen anything which is a no-no for a nature lover like me … love the pics!

    Antonette Spaan / Reply
  8. Ireland is so beautiful! I have only been to Dublin and the coast so far, but I would love to go to the deep countryside as well to experience the real Irish way of life. Fabulous photos!

    tammyonthemove / Reply
    • Thank you Tammy. It really is well worth a few weeks. It will become a home stay for us one day. I couldn’t even imagine trying to absorb all of its charm and history, magic and myth, in one or two trips. I much rather embed myself into the culture there.

  9. I’ve never been to Ireland it all seems so romantic, picturesque and cosy – somewhere to run away to, escape it all and just hibernate in a cottage, eating shepherds pie and reading by a fire with a cup of tea. : )

  10. Beautiful scenery and great photography!
    My favourite is “The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul” – I can imagine what it looked like when it was new! They don’t make buildings like that anymore do they!

    Travelling King Blog / Reply
    • Thank you! I’ll tell you, walking through this place, it’s quiet, it smells like fresh rain, had it not been for my modern devices I wouldn’t have known a difference in time.

      I hope you get to see it one day.

  11. What a great place – and the photos ain’t to shabby either! I love all of that greenery and agree that the twilight makes those photos look so magical!

  12. […] tour of legends continues into the Wicklow Mountains to the Monastic Settlement of Glendalough, the site of the first written Irish legends from their ancient oral […]

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