Glendalough is renowned for its Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century
by St Kevin. His fame as a holy man spread and he attracted numerous followers.
He died in about 618. For six centuries afterwards, Glendalough flourished and the
Irish Annals contain references to the deaths of abbots and raids on the settlement.
The destruction of the settlement by English forces in 1398 left it a ruin but it continued
as a church of local importance and a place of pilgrimage.
The buildings which survive probably date from between the 10th and 12th centuries.
The Gateway to the monastic city of Glendalough is one of the most important monuments,
now totally unique in Ireland. It was originally two-storied with two fine, granite arches.
The antae or projecting walls at each end suggest that it had a timber roof. Inside the gateway,
in the west wall, is a cross-inscribed stone. This denoted sanctuary, the boundary of the area of refuge.
The paving of the causeway in the monastic city is still preserved in part but very little remains of the enclosure wall.
The Round Tower built of mica-slate interspersed with granite is about 30 metres high,
with an entrance 3.5 metres from the base. The conical roof was rebuilt in 1876 using
the original stones. The tower originally had six timber floors, connected by ladders.
The four storeys above entrance level are each lit by a small window; while the top
storey has four windows facing the cardinal compass points. Round towers, landmarks
for approaching visitors, were built as bell towers, but also served on occasion
as store-houses and as places of refuge in times of attack.
The Cathedral is the largest and most imposing of the buildings at Glendalough,
the cathedral had several phases of construction, the earliest, consisting of the
present nave with its antae. The large mica-shist stones which can be seen up to the
height of the square-headed west doorway were re-used from an earlier smaller church.
The chancel and sacristy date from the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The chancel
arch and east window were finely decorated, through many of the stones are now missing.
The north doorway to the nave also dates from this period. Under the southern window of
the chancel is an ambry or wall cupboard and a piscina, a basin used for washing the sacred vessels.
A few metres south of the cathedral an early cross of local granite, with an unpierced ring, is commonly known as St. Kevin's Cross.
"We visited the beautiful Wicklow mountains and the ancient monastic settlement in Glendalough. All along the way, Michael enriched our visit by sharing his knowledge of the geography and history of the area." More ...
"From the moment we met Michael just outside our hotel in Dublin, we were whisked away onto a magical adventure into Irish history. Michael was extremely knowledgeable, and tailored the day tour around our interests" More ...
"Our day with Michael was the highlight of our two week stay in Ireland" More...
"Michael was an outstanding tour guide with a deep knowledge of the area and its history" More ...
Glendalough monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin.