Yesterday in my jet lagged no sleep state I signed on to a tour of some pretty places outside of Dublin. As mentioned earlier, the guide was pretty good except for the fact that he didn’t tell me I wouldn’t get a ride back to where he picked me up until the end of the day and then dumped me off I’m not sure exactly where.
I don’t remember a lot of what he said, lots of the same tourist jokes you hear all over the world. Pointed out where James Joyce mother lived and the homes of some fictional characters from ‘The Dubliners’. Yes, real homes of fictional characters. He wasn’t shy about his dislike of the English despite most of the other passengers being old English ladies. Also there wes a French couple that spoke no English and a couple of Germans.
I like old English ladies. They told me about their gardens and the lovely places back in England. They had a million questions about Hawaii and Morocco and so my guide skills came in handy.
Hey, what’s the loch ness monster doing in Ireland?
We visited Glendalough in Wicklow County and drove through the moutains and peat bogs. A few mountain towns and a stop at a little village for lunch. Unfortunately, all Irish villages look like fake country villages. I had a bowl of veggie soup that was pretty good.
Situated right in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Glendalough is one of the most visited locations in Ireland, with over 1 million visitors a year.
We stopped and looked over a lake they call Guinness Lake due to it’s black waters and white sand beach (and the fact that the water to make Guiness comes from it)
Glendalough gets its name from the Irish language. Gleann dá locha literally means the ‘Glen of the two lakes’. We stopped at a waterfall that was …you know…it was a waterfall from the road.
And then we drove back listening to the kind of Irish music that makes me feel like it’s Christmas and actually…I hate Christmas.
The saving grace was the old English ladies with thier over the top cheerfulness and their sarcastic wit. Also since I was the only one who speaks any French besides the French people, I did chat with them for a bit too…they spoke no English and we had a surprisingly decent conversation considering the state of my French. I need to improve that.
A lot of the tour was about St. Kevin, although this legend of St. Kevin wasn’t included but I found it online:
Perhaps the most famous legend is the one about Kathleen of the “eyes of most unholy blue”. She is said to have pursued the handsome Kevin in a bid to captivate him, ignoring the fact that he was bound by holy vows. He became annoyed and repulsed her by beating her with a bunch of nettles. She later sought his forgiveness and is said to have become a very holy woman, noted for her grate sanctity.
Nothing like beating a woman with a bunch of nettles. What a guy!
Here is the tour description from the company’s website.
Tour Ireland with Over The Top Tours. We’ll show you Ireland in a way that larger coach companies cannot. Experience fun and adventure off the beaten track.
We offer you the opportunity to enjoy this land of mysterious mountains and spectacular valleys.
The tour starts over the Dublin mountains and into the picturesque Sally Gap. Experience breathtaking views with complimentary coffee! Wicklow is widely known as the “Garden of Ireland” Stop where you like and when you like along the route.
See the famous film locations for Braveheart and Ballykissangel. Visit hidden lakes and luscious waterfalls. Travel the by-roads to beautiful Glendalough and after a healthy walk, time for lunch* and a drop of the famous brew. Returning home via the depths of the Wicklow mountains passing the scenic lakes of Blessington.
I thought about going down and collecting those coins but instead I just added one more and made a wish. Also wrapped my arms around St. Kevins cross and made the same wish, I’m not telling what it was. That’s me reflected in the middle and a couple of my old English lady friends on either side.
By the way, lunch and the ‘famous brew’ were not included and were overpriced at the little stop which is why I opted for coffee and the famous veggie soup.
Ireland is sort of like Hawaii in that there are lots of stone walls everywhere, sort of like the Pacific Northwest as there are lots of blackberries and people with big red noses everywhere, and like nowhere else really…I like it, but as I’ve said before recently, I’m finding travel to be more humdrum and boring than ever before, in particular this kind of tourist trip.
Here is more on Glendalough:
Glendalough, or the Glen of two Lakes, is one of the most important sites of maonastic 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.
The buildings fell into decay and more than 6 hundred years elapsed before a reconstruction program was started in 1878. Further work was carried out in the 20th century Today the valley of Glendalough is extensively wooded and a comprehensive network of walk ways have been completed and continually improved, which provides good access for the visitor and researcher to wonder the valley.
(Originally posted 02 October 2009)