Today I played tourist. You can’t come to Ireland and lock yourself up in the Archives or Library for your entire visit. After 10 days, I really needed a break and so I booked a bus tour to Glendalough and Killkenny. When I got up this morning, the sun was shining and after the rain of last night, I thought it would be a nice day. Unfortunately, before we were out of Dublin, the rain began. According to our tour guide, if you can see the mountains around Dublin, it’s going to rain; if you can’t see them, it’s already raining. I have to say that up until last night the rain hasn’t really bothered me...it’s been a “soft rain,” just a light, almost misting rain. That wasn’t the case today...the rain could rival some of our Florida storms, without the thunder and lightning!
Glendalough, the valley of the two lakes, is the ruins of a monastery founded by St. Kevin, a hermit priest, that dates back to the 6th century. I’ve added the link to a page that has wonderful pictures...mine unfortunately were taken in the pouring rain. We started at the upper lake, the deeper of the two surrounded by the mountains (which we couldn’t see through the rain and fog). I would definitely like to return and walk around the lake as it has to be just beautiful in good weather.
The rain let up a bit when we got to the monastery. You enter through a double arch and to the right is the “sanctuary stone” with a cross engraved into it. The various buildings are surrounded by a large cemetery (makes a genealogist feel right at home) with many beautifully carved Celtic crosses. There is a 100’ tall round tower (rebuilt) as well as the ruins of the church. I could read some of the stones back into the early 1800s but many older stones were completely unreadable.
Our next stop was just a short photo op at the top of the Wicklow Gap. Again, it probably would be a beautiful site on a clear day, however shortly after we got out of the bus, the skies opened up again. This has become a very popular site for movies, including Braveheart.
From there is was about 2 hours to Kilkenny, the Norman capital of Ireland. Kilkenny was a typical Norman walled city built with a cathedral at one end and the castle at the other end. We did a walking tour (yes it was still raining) starting at the cathedral for about 1 1/2 hours and then had about an hour free for lunch before we headed back to Dublin.
When you come to Ireland to research, make sure you set aside time to see the beautiful country. There are lots of tours that take you outside of Dublin, so take advantage of them.