1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Glendalough, Vale of

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GLENDALOUGH, VALE OF, a mountain glen of Co. Wicklow, Ireland, celebrated and frequently visited both on account of its scenic beauty and, more especially, because of the collection of ecclesiastical remains situated in it. Fortunately for its appearance, it is not approached by any railway, but services of cars are maintained to several points, of which Rathdrum, 81/2 m. S.E., is the nearest railway station, on the Dublin & South-Eastern. The glen is traversed by the stream of Glenealo, a tributary of the Avonmore, expanding into small loughs, the Upper and the Lower. The former of these is walled by the abrupt heights of Camaderry (2296 ft.) and Lugduff (2176 ft.), and here the extreme narrowness of the valley adds to its grandeur; while lower down, where it widens, the romantic character of the scenery is enhanced by the scattered ruins of the former monastic settlement. These ruins have the collective name of the “Seven Churches.” The settlement owed its foundation to the hermit St Kevin, who is reputed to have died on the 3rd of June 618; and it rapidly became a seat of learning of wide fame, but suffered much at the hands of the Danes and the Anglo-Normans. In close proximity to an hotel, and to one another, in an enclosure, are a round tower, one of the finest in Ireland, 110 ft. high and 52 in circumference; St Kevin’s kitchen or church (closely resembling the house of St Columba at Kells), which measures 25 ft. by 15, with a high-pitched roof and round belfry—supposed to be the earliest example of its type; and the cathedral, about 73 ft. in total length by 51 in width. This possesses a good square-headed doorway, and an east window of ornate character (the chancel being of later date than the nave), and there are also some early tombs, but the whole is in a decayed condition. In the enclosure are also a Lady chapel, chiefly remarkable for its doorway of wrought granite, in a style of architecture resembling Greek; a priest’s house (restored), and slight remains of St Chiaran’s church. Here is also St Kevin’s cross, a granite monolith never completed; and the enclosure is entered by a fine though dilapidated gateway. Other neighbouring remains are Trinity or the Ivy Church, towards Laragh, with beautiful detailed work; St Saviour’s monastery, carefully restored under the direction of the Board of Works, with a chancel arch of three orders (re-erected); while on the shores of the upper lough are Reefert Church, the burial-place of the O’Toole family, and Teampull-na-skellig, the church of the rock. St Kevin’s bed is a cave approachable with difficulty, above the lough, probably a natural cavity artificially enlarged, to which attaches the legend of St Kevin’s hermitage. Along the valley there are a number of monuments and stone crosses of various sizes and styles. The whole collection forms, with the possible exception of Clonmacnoise in King’s county, the most striking monument of monasticism in Ireland.