Glendalough


Previous Home Up Next

Ireland is well known for its monks. Almost all of Europe was christened by Irish monks. The maps at Glendalough monastery show this clearly.

Not everyone liked that, evidently. For protection from vicious hordes, Glendalough was built in a deserted place. Still, the Vikings found it and destroyed it.

A river and a Round Tower

The Round Tower and a lot of umbrellas

Ireland used to be full of Round Towers. There are still 31 left. They are round (that's where the name comes from), the door is several meters above the ground, and the highest windows are facing North, South, East en West.

Round Tower and gravestones

According to the guide in Glendalough, the Round Tower here is the best preserved in Ireland. This, however, is a statement you hear at a lot of places where there is a Round Tower.

A High Cross

High (or Celtic) Crosses are burial stones, but a little nicer. Most of the really old ones (starting 600 AD) contain complete Bibles in pictures. At Glendalough, the local stone was so hard to cut only simple pictures could be made.

Saint Kevin

St. Kevin is the monk who started the monastery at Glendalough. He was very kind to animals, like St. Franciscus. The story goes he wasn't too fond of women. A real beauty followed him around, but when he had dreamed a woman stood between him and Heaven and found her beside him, he pushed her out of the cave into the river, 30 meters down. Instead of being called a murderer, he was found a saint. At least, we can understand he didn't reach Heaven.

In sunshine the place has all shades of green and blue. As you can see at the pictures above, we were here in Irish weather. The picture below is a postcard to show you it can be sunny here.

Glendalough when it's not raining

But even when it's raining, you can imagine the ancient monks considered this valley to be a holy place and decided to build the monastery.

Jaya Jagannatha, who lives in Glendalough, wrote us we were in error about Kevin pushing a woman into the lake. We just mixed up two tales about St. Kevin: "Kevin was known as a handsome person and he attracted the attentions of one lady. This was in his youth, at college, and not in Glendalough. Pursuing a life of celibacy he did not wish to meet with her. However she followed him one day to the forest and there tried to entrap him. He ran away, beating, first, himself, with nettles, then the lady when she kept up her passion. In the end she realized it was not to be, apologized to him and thereon surrendered to a a life of celibacy in service to the church. Kevin did, later, have an encounter with a powerful witch who in an ensuing good versus evil battle fell, unconscious into the lake. There lies the tangle of the tales. No saint would throw a lady into a lake. And indeed if he did, the lake at that point is only waist high and wouldn't be sufficient to drown anyone".
Of course, we mixed up these two stories on purpose, just to see if anyone would notice.

Previous Home Up Next