At the town of Ardmore, in 1798, Father Michael Murphy led a force of twenty thousand men and tried to storm the town. But they were defeated and he, along with many of his men, was killed. Back at the coast for just a moment, we turned onto Route 747 at Ardmore, for a scenic drive up to the Wicklow Mountains. Viewed the new barns full of hay, made out of metal now. At Woodenbridge, we turned right onto Route 747, riding through the Vale of Avoca and the Vale of Clara. Saw gorgeous gardens full of different shades of blooming rhododendrons.
At Laragh, we took Route 756 for just a mile, where we came into the magnificent Glendalough, the glen of the two lakes, famous for its natural beauty as well as its ancient monuments. We drove up to the upper lake first and were alone in this mystical, magical valley. The tall round tower here was nestled in the tall groves of cedars, at the foot of the mountainside, beside the lake.
St. Kevin came here in the 6th century. Sleeping in the trees and on the rocks, in solitude, he lived the life of a hermit to gain spiritual insights. He soon attracted disciples, who formed a monastery. This seat of learning was famous for centuries. St. Kevin was born around 498, lived a very long time and died in the year 617.
Full of grand mountains and trees, the lakes, the valley which was formed by a glacier twelve thousand years ago, it retains a spiritual atmosphere, even though it is invaded daily by hordes of tourists and tour buses. It’s only about an hour’s drive from Dublin. Parking our car, we decided to explore the lower lake region on foot.
Going up the steps and through the double arched gateways, the only surviving monastic entranceways in Ireland, we retained a certain feeling of awe. Celtic crosses and tombstones met our eyes first, with the beginning of the Wicklow Gap in the distance. To our right we were able to get a close-up view of the 10th century round tower with its conical roof.
We ventured forth into the roofless, stone Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, dating from the 10th century. The re-constructed St. Kevin’s Church had a very steep roof, reminiscent of the Gallarus Oratory but bigger, and a belfry similar in design to the round tower with its conical roof. This church was in use from the 1050 to 1850!
Going northeast on Route 755, we came to Enniskerry and the gardens of Powerscourt Estate. Not having enough time to wander through them and admire their beauty, we opted to drive over to the Powerscourt Waterfall. Called the highest in the British Isles and Ireland, it wasn’t much for a person who loves waterfalls as much as I do. We parked our car and walked over for a view. Tumbling four hundred feet, it was just a narrow band of water flowing down.
The drive along here was as pretty as when we first left Dublin going north. It gave onto a panorama of a bare, sloping mountain; a myriad of tiny specks of white sheep on the flat, green landscape; and by the side of the road, in gorgeous abundance, was the golden gorse.