Posts Tagged ‘saints’

Last night, a friend of mine passed away. She was on the trip to Ireland I took in 2009, and she was a follower of this blog. I didn’t have the opportunity to know her nearly as long or as well as many others, but I treasured the time I did have with her. I am reposting something I wrote last year about a place we both enjoyed visiting very much. Rest in peace, Mary.

Glendalough Visitor Centre

While in Ireland last year, I visited Glendalough, the site of a medieval monastic settlement.

Gate to Glendalough


Glendalough, or “the valley of the two lakes,” is about an hour south of Dublin in County Wicklow. The monastery there was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Kevin died in about 618 AD, but the monastery flourished until it was destroyed by English troops in 1398. The church continued to operate after the monastic settlement was disbanded. The buildings that remain in ruins date to the 1100s and 1200s.

St. Kevin's Church


I was anticipating seeing medieval buildings and maybe a few surviving grave slabs or monuments, which was exciting enough. But when we entered the gate, we found tombstones that date from well after 1398.


Glendalough, being a the final resting place of a saint, continued to be a popular place for burial, even as the buildings fell to ruins. Tombstones were everywhere. They were attached to the remaining stones walls that used to be chapels and churches.


Grave slabs and fallen tombstones lined the floor of the former cathedral.


Tombstones were interspersed with the buildings, right up against them, falling over themselves to squeeze as many as possible into the sacred ground.

Stone and wall
Multiple generations of families would have a common marker, with new names added to the bottom until they ran out of family or ran out of space.


Byrnes and Healys

Glendalough feels both peaceful and isolated, an island of quiet where one can go to contemplate the spiritual surrounded by generations before who found the same tranquility so compelling that they chose to spend eternity there.

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