Glendalough Visitors Centre
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
About Glendalough Visitors Centre
Glendalough, or the Glen of two Lakes, is one of the most important sites of monastic ruins in Ireland. It is also known as the city of the seven Churches. Fourteen centuries have passed since the death of its founder St. Kevin, when the valley was part of Ireland's Golden Age. The two lakes, which gave the valley its name, came into existence thousands of years ago, after the Ice Age, when great deposits of earth and stone were strewn across the valley in the area where the Round Tower now exists. The mountain streams eventually formed a large lake.
The Pollanass river spread alluvial deposits across the centre of the lake and created a divide to form the Upper and Lower Lakes. The Glenealo River flows in from the West into the Upper Lake which is the larger and deepest of the two lakes. Before the arrival of St. Kevin this valley (glen) would have been desolate and remote. It must have been ideal for St Kevin as a retreat and area to be 'away from it all'. Kevin died in 617 A.D. at the age of 120 years and his name and life's work is forever entwine with the ruins and the Glendalough Valley.
The recorded history of the wooded valley dates from the 6th century - the dawn of Christianity in Ireland. For 500 years it was one of Irelands great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning. The establishment was attacked, burned and plundered by the Danes, who were based in the stronghold of Dublin, a shortish distance away, and making it an easy target.. Glendalough, despite extensive fire damage in 1163 A.D. prospered until the early 13th century. In 1163, Laurence O'Toole, Abbot of Glendalough, who later became Irelands first canonised saint, was appointed Archbishop of Dublin.
The arrival of the Normans in Ireland sealed the fate of Glendalough, as in 1214 the monastery was destroyed by the invaders and the Diocese of Glendalough was united with the Sea of Dublin. After that, Glendalough declined as a monastic establishment and gradually it became deserted.
Glendalough Visitor Centre contains an exhibition and an audio-visual demonstration. French, German, Spanish and Swedish guided tours are available all year by advance booking. Visitor Centre is fully accessible for visitors with disabilities. Access to the graveyard is very difficult for wheelchair users.
Mid October - Mid March: Daily 9.30 - 17.00
Mid March - Mid October: Daily 9.30 - 18.00
Image © Copyright Eirian Evans and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons.