Monastic Settlement, Glendalough
The monastic site at Glendalough is open at all times; the opening times given apply to the Visitor Centre. Cars may be parked at the Visitor Centre and between the Upper and Lower Lakes. Visitors are recommended first to see the informative video film at the center and then to begin their tour at the Upper Lake, for this was the center of the complex. A pretty path, the Green Road, leads from the Upper Lake to the remains of the monastic settlement near the Visitor Center.The exhibits in the Visitor Centre include a model of the site as well as various gravestones, capitals and other masonry. Of special interest is a 12th C. high cross (Market Cross) with a Crucifixion, a figure of an abbot and interlace ornaments.; this may have once stood on the pilgrim road to Glendalough.
Monastic Settlement Highlights
Church of the Rock
Teampull na Skellig, the little rectangular "Church of the Rock", stands on an artificially levelled platform on the lake and can be reached only by boat.
St Kevin's Bed
220yd/200m east of the Church of the Rock is a cavity in the cliff, probably a Bronze Age burial place but now known as St Kevin's Bed or hermitage.
Near a small bridge by St Kevin's Bed stands Reefert Church (11th C.) with a nave and chancel; the projecting stones at the corners supported the rafters.
Between the Upper and Lower Lake, to the right of the parking lot, are an old stone fort and three stone crosses, and beside the Lower Lake another cross; all four are stations on the pilgrimage circuit at Glendalough.
The main group of monastic buildings, dating from the heyday of the Glendalough monastery, lies downstream, near the hotel. The precinct was entered through the gateway, which has two round-headed granite arches. Near the gateway is the round tower, 102ft/31mhigh and 16ft/5m in diameter at the base; it is still in its original condition apart from the roof which is reconstructed from the old stones.
St Mary's Church
To the west of the round tower stands the granite-built Church of Our Lady or St Mary's Church (10th C.), in which St Kevin's tomb was venerated until the 18th C.
Beyond St Mary's Church is the Priest's House, a 12th C. building in Irish Romanesque style with an interesting carving of much earlier date on the lintel of the doorway.
St Kevin's Church
At the Glendalough site on the road to Laragh, to the right, stands Trinity Church (11th-12th C).
St Saviour Priory
1mi/1.5km east of the cathedral in the Glendalough monastic settlement, beyond the river, is the latest complex of buildings, St Savior's Priory (12th C; reconstructed about 1875): a church with fine Romanesque carvings on the chancel arch and windows and some conventual buildings.
The whole monastic site at Glendalough lies within Glendalough Forest Park, which extends northwest up the valley. Two small artificial lakes (reservoirs) and the Hill of Camaderry (2,296ft/700m) contribute to the beauty of the scenery.