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Glendalough - Wicklow - Valley

circa 1910

Glendalough (Gleann Dá Locha in Irish, meaning 'the glen of two lakes') is a village located at the site of a monastery located in County Wicklow, Ireland. It was founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin, a hermit priest, and destroyed in 1398 by English troops.

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Photo Details

  • County: Wicklow
  • Town: Glendalough
  • Scene: Elevated view of the Glen showing both lakes
  • Date: 1910 (estimate)

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  • Read about Glendalough below

Glendalough

Glendalough (Gleann Dá Locha in Irish, meaning 'the glen of two lakes') is a village located at the site of a monastery located in County Wicklow, Ireland. It was founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin, a hermit priest, and destroyed in 1398 by English troops.

St. Kevin's Monastic Site

The location was sought out as a peaceful retreat by St. Kevin because of its remoteness and serenity, but several disciples who wished to follow his teachings built a temporary hamlet of churches, chapels and living quarters in the valley below the site of his hovel. This soon grew and eventually, at the height of its popularity, was one of the main religious universities in Ireland.

The remains of the monastery are located beside the two lakes (Lower Lake and Upper Lake). The monastic site and its visitor centre are managed by the Office of Public Works and the lakes form part of Wicklow Mountains National Park. The monastic site and lakes are one of the most popular tourist sites in Ireland.

The monastic site includes a 33 metres tall round tower and St. Kevin's Cross, a Celtic High cross. The round tower was built during the era of the viking invasions in Ireland (up to and around AD1066), in order to protect the religious relics, books and chalices used around the monastery at the time.

Mining

At the west end of the Upper Lake lie the ruins of an abandoned miners' village that is, normally, accessible only by foot. Mining, primarily for lead, took place here from 1850 until about 1875 but the mines in the valley of Glendalough were smaller and less important than those in Glendasan Valley, that are separated by Camaderry Mountain. In 1859 the Glendasan and Glendalough mines were connected with each other by a series of adits, now flooded, through the mountain. This made it easier to transport ore to Glendalough and process it there. The mines are now under the management of Wicklow Mountains National Park.

Hill Walking

There are many good local walks, of varying difficulty, to be made around Glendalough. Within the valley itself there are nine colour-coded walking trails maintained by Wicklow Mountains National Park. They all begin at the Information Office at the Upper Lake where maps are available to purchase.

The Wicklow Way, a long distance way-marked walking trail, passes through Glendalough on its way from Rathfarnham in the north to its southerly point of Clonegal in County Carlow.

Rock climbing

Glendalough's granite cliffs, situated on the hillside above the north-western end of the valley, have been a popular rock-climbing location since the first climbs were established in 1948. The current guidebook, published in 1993, lists about 110 routes, at all grades up to E5/6a, though several more climbs, mainly in the high grades, have been recorded since then.

The granite rock provides excellent friction, and the climbs typically follow crack lines, with good traditional protection. The climbs vary between one and four pitches, and up to over 100m in length. There are several sectors:

  • Twin Buttress , a large buttress divided in the middle by a seasonal waterfall, which contains the most popular climbs. This area is approached via the zig-zag path at the head of the valley.
  • The Upper Cliffs, a band of cliffs high up on the hillside east of Twin Buttress.
  • Acorn Buttress, a small buttress just below Twin Buttress, which is a popular base-camp location.
  • Hobnail Buttress , a small buttress with some easy climbing, on the hillside 1km to the east.

The quality of the climbing along with the variety of grades attracts climbers of all standards to Glendalough, and makes it a favourite destination for Dublin climbers in particular. The Irish Mountaineering Club has operated a climbing hut in the area since the 1950's.

Below the crag is an extensive boulder field. This is a popular location for bouldering activities, the boulders within easy reach of the path being especially popular.