Wicklow Way through mountains and monastery

On the Wicklow Way
On the Wicklow Way


After the drama of the first day, the Wicklow Way south of Dublin was much kinder to me.

The weather was better and  I was paying more attention to the twists and turn of the trail. We were led on open, wild country where we could see forever. Almost all of the trees in the countryside were cut down eons ago, giving wonderful views.

But as I keep commenting.

This is not untouched land. We passed through the monastic city of St. Kevin. We had scheduled a short day, only six miles, so that we had plenty of time to understand the ruins in Glendalough.

St. Kevin was a hermit who lived in a cave and presumably spent his free time praying. He was supposed to have lived from 498 to 618. To have lived this long certainly required divine intervention. But others must have found out about his lifestyle.

A monastery was founded after his death that became a center of learning. This is where monks wrote out and illuminated manuscripts. Then a village sprung up around the monastery. Well, others needed to grow and process grain and other foodstuff while the monks prayed.

Round Tower
Round Tower

Today, the monastic city still has an intact Round Tower and St. Kevin’s church. The cathedral is in ruins. The rest of the area is a huge graveyard, where people can still be buried. But here’s the modern story.

Close to the B&B where we stayed was a modern St. Kevin’s church.

I was not able to go inside but the grounds held a fascinating group of outdoor sculture. The most memorable was a memorial designed by Brother Joseph McNally, a local monk who had been in the United States when the twin towers were attacked on 911.

911 sculpture
911 sculpture 

The Wicklow Way is the oldest long-distance trail in Ireland, having been established in about 1981. It’s only about 82 miles. Like most walks, it has a lot of roadwalking but it enters and leaves Wicklow Mountains National Park several times.

Unfortunately our plans don’t allow us to do the complete trail. If you’ve been following me, you might think that Beth and I will be in Ireland hiking forever, but no such luck. This is our last trail.

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