One day as St. Kevin was at prayer, so legend says, a blackbird laid an egg in his outstretched hand. The 6th-century founder of the monastic settlement at Glendalough, not wishing to disturb nature’s course, remained motionless until the egg hatched.
The majestic Glendalough lake at dusk
The majestic Glendalough lake at dusk
Watching early morning mists rise up the steep, wooded slopes of Glendalough – the “valley of two lakes” – to reveal the remarkable remains of this early Christian site deep in the Wicklow Mountains, it’s easy to feel at one with nature too.
You can hear the silence … and it’s magical.
Kevin (or Chaoimhin, “the fair-begotten”) was born into a noble family but renounced a life of privilege for one of prayer amid birds and animals in Glendalough’s remote, glaciated valley – still a surprise when you come upon it even now.
Couple admiring the lake in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
Couple admiring the lake in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
Living as a hermit in the cave above the Upper Lake, the saint attracted followers and in time a major monastic city grew up. Displays in today’s visitor centre tell of its learning and reputation.
Painting of the views at Glendalough
Painting of the views at Glendalough
Such a bustling community may seem distant as you wander the valley and lakes, touching haunting medieval remains that stand long after Viking raids and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. But in these stones you can still sense the influence of Ireland’s golden age of monastic pioneers: the soaring Round Tower, Cathedral, tiny Priests’ House and St. Kevin’s Church with its curious bell turret.
Grave slabs, decorated crosses, a burial place of kings add further intrigue, while pilgrims’ footsteps and waymarked walks lead into hills and woods inhabited to this day by blackbirds, as well as deer and much other wildlife.
Couple at Poluanass Waterfall
Aerial view of Glendalough
The round tower at Glendalough
Left: The stunning Poulanass Waterfall at Glendalough. Middle: A breath taking aerial view of Glendalough. Right: The imposing round tower of Glendalough.
Rambling past the Poulanass Waterfall and up the Derrybawn Mountain, looking back over the whole magnificent Glendalough Valley, you really can share the refreshing tranquillity that drew St. Kevin.

Visit Glendalough Monastic Site and Visitor Centre

Derrybawn, Glendalough, Wicklow