Saturday, July 15, 2006


This morning I left my comfortable Dublin Hostel (Harrington House) and caught St Kevin's bus for Glendalough at 11.30am. We drove through Dublin for quite a while, but then hit more rural countryside and were soon surrounded by some hills. These reminded me of home a little, though they were much more rounded and looked like they had been eroded over a long period.

Glendalough is superb. There were lots of people on the bus for a day trip from Dublin, but this setting is peaceful despite the crowds. I booked into the hostel first to dump off my pack and then headed back down to the Visitor Centre. I was just in time to go with a group on a guided tour that was included in the very reasonable Visitor Centre charge. (You can see the ruins without going into the Visitor Centre but I was interested to see their video.) The lady taking the tour explained things very clearly and it gave me a good understanding of the history of the site.

St Kevin was a monk who found a place to live as a solitary hermit. But word spread and he had others wanting to join him. Eventually the settlement grew to be rather large. Monks weren't all single men: some had wives and families as well. The ruins of the monastic settlement were quite large. There was a chapel that still had the stone roof on from the twelfth century. There was the tall circular tower that is a typical feature of Irish monasteries but not elsewhere in Europe. There was a large stone cross. The cemetery, which has old graves and then newer ones dating from when the monastery was closed down, has many Celtic crosses on the headstones. These ruins were great to wander around and I am certain to go back again tomorrow.

In my hostel room there is a young Belgian woman who has only had a week's holiday but she has spent it all in this area walking. We walked down to the next village and had a drink on a terrace bar then she showed me a few more local tracks on the way back. We saw a young deer in a paddock on the way down, and then three goats munching in a field as we returned. They were obviously used to humans on the path and never took fright.

It has been a lovely sunny day here today. It would be nice if I can leave my raincoat in my pack for a while!

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