Located in the Garden of Ireland, County Wicklow, Glendalough was the site where the hermit Saint Kevin lived alone for some years before being joined by his followers to form the famous monastery that lies in ruins today. By arriving early at the site, you’ll have the place almost to yourself and this beautiful valley can seem almost eerie as the thick morning mist gradually fades into the forests.
Walk along the path following the eastern shore of the lower lakes, with a view of the round tower and church rising through the mist as you walk across the frost covered ground.
You’ll be able to visit the ancient ruins of Saint Kieran’s Church, Saint Kevin’s Church, Our Lady’s Church, the Priest’s House, Reefert Church, and the Saint Kevin’s ‘cell’, the cave where he made his bed. Be careful as you walk due to the frost, but don’t keep your eyes on your path, be sure to look around and see the deer watching lazily from the hillside. You may also see blue herons taking off from the lake, rabbits scurrying towards their burrows, and many more animals and birds.
Numerous waterfalls cascade over the lakes and the sound of water will be all you think about as you make your way to the upper lake and find a place of remarkable tranquillity. It’s not hard to see why Saint Kevin and his followers chose this isolated spot for their meditation. With the last of the leaves falling from the trees, you can catch some wonderful photos of the gold and red scattering under the frost.
Glendalough can be visited as part of a day tour which continues to Kilkenny, a medieval city and one of the key locations in Irish history. Kilkenny sits on the River Nore, with its spectacular castle overlooking the river with fine public gardens for you to explore. Many of the storefronts have retained their traditional fronts, and the streets are something of a web, reflecting their medieval origins.
The history of the city lives on in the castle, Rothe House, and the cathedrals, which is fitting for a city which gave birth to the Statutes of Kilkenny, the laws meant to suppress the native Irish, and then became the capital of Confederate Ireland from 1642 to 1649, when English rule of the country was largely restricted to Dublin and the surrounding area as a result of the English Civil War and the chaos which followed.
A visit to Kilkenny at any time of the year is special, but the river and the castle gardens can be evening more charming under frost, or better yet, snow. The city is also widely known for its designer shopping boutiques and has a fine collection of traditional Irish pubs and fine restaurants.