Glendalough

The Gateway
The Gateway

This is the most popular site in Co. Wicklow. The name means "Glen of the two lakes". Glen = glen, da = two, lough = lake. Lough is pronounced the same as the Scots Gaelic "loch".

The Cross
St. Kevin's Cross

This early Christian site is associated with the 6th century ascetic monk, St. Kevin, who founded the famous monastic site. According to legend St. Kevin lived in a cave located on the southern wall of the valley, just above the surface of the upper lake. This cave, known as "Kevin's Bed", is visible from the pathway on the far side of the lake.According to legend St. Kevin shared the cave with a she-wolf. However, this manmade cave may be a Bronze Age burial site.

Church and Tower
Church and Tower

The monastery was attacked frequently by vikings and other raiders. Glendalough is a terrific adventure for anyone interested in ancient history, medieval history, archaeology and wildlife. The valley is covered in ruins from many different eras, some of which are partially hidden by foliage.

There is an excellent interpretive centre located next to the upper car park (as you enter the valley) and guided tours are provided from the spring to autumn. Particularly noteworthy is the unique Gateway to the walled monastic area, which is the last such structure remaining intact in Ireland.

Glendalough is located in the very middle of the Wicklow Mountains, and is at the centre of the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The headquarters of the National Park are located here, on the roadway between the two lakes.

Cathedral
The Cathedral

Asides from the archaeological remains, the two lakes are very beautiful. Halfway between the lakes on the southern flank of the valley there is also a waterfall, with a path leading to it and oak woodland around it.

Glendalough is home to many species of mountain animals, including the unique Wicklow Red Sika deer, wild goats, jays, ravens, red grouse, mountain hares, pine martens, and oak eggar moths.

Amenities - there is a hotel and pub. Public toilets are located outside the visitor centre, and at the carpark by the upper lake.

Getting there: Glendalough is located on the Wicklow Way, and therefore unavoidable for those travelling the mountains on foot. However, due to its remote location it is difficult for day-trippers to get to unless they are driving. There is no regular bus service from the towns of Wicklow to Glendalough. The best way for tourists to visit Glendalough is to take the St. Kevin's Tour bus from Trinity College in Dublin. For those renting a car the best route to Glendalough is to Wicklow by the N11 main road, then to follow one of the link roads to Roundwood. The route is straightforward and clearly signposted.