While renowned for it’s magnificent scenery Glendalough is also full of a rich and varied heritage in terms of history, monuments, archaeology, architecture, landscapes, geology, parks, flora, fauna, wildlife habitats & mining history.
The Glendalough Valley was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age and the two lakes, from which Glendalough gets its name, were formed when the ice eventually thawed. The Valley is home to one of Ireland’s most impressive monastic sites founded by St. Kevin in the 6th Century.
Situated in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, the area is a haven for wildlife and their habitats, flora and fauna.
The remains of the Glendalough Mines and Glendasan mines can be found both inside and outside the Park.
Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the ‘Monastic City’.
The ‘City’ consists of a number of monastic remains, and the most impressive being the Round Tower which stands 30m high. The main group of monastic buildings lies downstream near the Round Tower. The grounds were entered through the Gateway, which has two round headed granite arches.
Beyond St. Mary’s Church is the Priest’s House, a 12th Century building in Romanesque style, with an interesting carving of a much earlier date on the lintel of the doorway.
Just beyond the Priest's House is a large granite cross (sixth or seventh century) and the "Cathedral", the largest church on the site, with a nave, chancel and sacristy (11th and 12th C), and St Kevin's Church.
St Kevin’s Church is commonly known as St Kevin's Kitchen. This is a barrel-vaulted oratory of hard mica schist with a steeply pitched roof and a round tower belfry (12th C).
Approx 200m east of the Church of the Rock is a cavity in the cliff which is known as St Kevin's Bed or Hermitage.
At the Glendalough site on the road to Laragh, to the right, stands Trinity Church (11th-12th C). Beyond the river about 1.5km to the east of the Cathedral is St. Saviour’s Priory a church with fine Romanesque carvings on the chancel arch and windows.
The remains of an old stone fort and three stone crosses can be found between the Upper and Lower Lake, and beside the Lower Lake another cross; all four are stations on the pilgrimage route at Glendalough. Near a small bridge by St Kevin's Bed stands Reefert Church (11th C.) with a nave and chancel.
To find out more about the Monastic City and details of other archaeological features, like tombs and cairns, to be found in the Park click here >>>
Glendalough Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre is adjacent to ruins of the monastic settlement and has an interesting exhibition and an audio-visual show. Guided tours of the Monastic City are available in multiple languages all year round by advance booking.
The Visitor Centre also holds Free Summer Lectures related to Irish heritage and history. For further information click here >>>
The Wicklow mountains National Park was established with the aim of protecting the area's wildlife, landscape and maintaining and improving the area as a recreational resource for Irish citizens and International visitors alike.
The National Park covers an area of 20,000 hectares and covers much of upland Wicklow. The National Park provides protection for the landscape and wildlife and covers areas such as Lugnaquilla and Liffey Head Bog complexes and Glendalough Wood Nature Reserve.
The Park is situated off the Green Road close to the Upper Lake, and approximately 100m from the Upper Lake Car Park – 2km from the Glendalough Visitor Centre.
Wicklow Mountains National Park runs a wide variety of activities for groups and individuals of all ages. Activities are free of charge and include field trips, nature walks, lectures and workshops.
The Education Centre adjacent to the Upper Lake provides a range of courses and tours for schoolchildren, students and other groups. These are related to nature conservation and the ecology of the National Park.
The Information Office contains an exhibit on the local wildlife and is the starting point for the local walking trails.
Specialised guided walking tours are also organised e.g. ‘Bat Walks’ and ‘Dawn Chorus’.
For further information check out their website www.wicklowmountainsnationalpark.ie
Mining in Glendalough dates back to the 1790’s where lead, zinc and silver were mined both in the Glendalough Valley and the next adjacent Valley, Glendasan. Mining in this area took place for over 150 years and at the peak of production 2,000 miners were employed. Mining continued up until 1957.
The Glendalough Mining Heritage Project was
established to preserve and conserve the mining history and heritage of
the Glendalough and Glendasan Valleys. Their website contains details
of an exciting new documentary DVD where many of the local ex-miners recall their memories of working in the mines.
Check out their website for more information www.glendaloughmines.com