Monday, September 28, 2015

Glendalough

Tuesday, our second-last day in Ireland, we took a day trip out of Dublin to Glendalough, in County Wicklow.  We decided on this excursion based on the recommendation of some people we met in a pub in Galway, and I'm really glad we went, because it was stunning.

But first, it turns out, the hotel I'd selected at random was only a five-minute walk to number seven Eccles St, Leopold and Molly Bloom's address in James Joyce's Ulysses.  (The house number is now number 78, and the actual door to the house is on display at the James Joyce Centre, but it's still worth it to take a look.)

Leopold Bloom House

It was also a coincidence that the walk to the bus stop to Glendalough retraced much of Leopold Bloom's route through Dublin on June 16, 1904.  Indeed, the Leopold Bloom walk took us right down Gardiner Place, the street of our hotel and down to the Liffey and over the river and down to Nassau Street, where we stopped to look in the shops, and then gave up on Bloom in order to catch the bus from Dawson Street.

The St. Kevin's bus service is an odd hybrid of tourist coach and local bus service.  It goes directly from Dublin to Glendalough every day.  You don't book ahead, but just wait on Dawson St at the appointed time (11:30 am) and buy tickets from the driver.  The bus makes several stops along the way that seemed to be mostly of use to the locals on the bus. (Our driver also made random stops on demand and even pulled over to let one of the passengers get off and use the bathroom.) He dropped us all off at the Glendalough visitors center, with the warning that he'd be leaving at promptly at 4:30, "with our without you." Altogether, it's an hour and a half-long drive.  Once you get out of Dublin, you cross the Wicklow Mountains and the scenery is stunning. 

What is the big attraction at Glendalough?  It contains the ruins of the medieval monastic city founded by St. Kevin (498 - 618).  The monastery survived for hundreds of years, despite being repeatedly sacked by the vikings.  The site is unbelievably gorgeous.  You can't imagine a more perfect spot to site a monastery.  I was practically ready to give up the world and join a convent myself. We checked out the lower ruins first, with the famous round tower, cathedral, and "St. Kevin's Kitchen," which is actually a church, but got its nickname because its short tower looks like a chimney.  We hiked to the upper lake to view St. Kevin's Cell, St. Kevin's Bed, (a cave in the cliff face) and other ruins.  To fill the last half hour before the bus arrived, we stopped at the collection of food trucks parked near the entrance to the monastic city and ordered tea and scones, which we ate at a tiny table beside a pretty little river.  The hot tea was welcome because the wind had become quite cold. Because of the brilliant sunshine, this was the one day I elected not to wear a wool sweater, which was a mistake. (Another thing about Ireland, always pack your umbrella, no matter how sunny it is.)

The bus dropped us back in Dublin at 6:00 pm and it was quite a long walk back to our hotel from Dawson Street, so we pub-hopped our way to the north side of the city.  We made dinner reservations at The Woolen Mills on Ormond Quay and the meal we had there was excellent.  Plus, the bartender had heard of the Buffalo Bills and was a Dallas Cowboys fan, which amused us greatly.  Jon gave him the bottle of Mad Hatter that we'd been lugging and photographing all over Ireland.

Double-arched gate into the monastic city


Round tower

Inside the cathedral ruins--most of the buildings date from the 10th-12th centuries


Ruins of the "priests' house"  (Not actually a house, but a crypt.)


St. Kevin's Kitchen


Hiking to St. Kevin's Cell


Wicklow Mountains


1 comment:

  1. These photos are gorgeous. I love that you made this excursion based on recommendation of someone you met in a pub.

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