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.
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.
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.
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.