Glendalough Monastic Site

Map Reference: T126968 (3126, 1968)

The monastery at Glendalough was founded by St Kevin in the 6th century. It was one of the most famous religious centres in Ireland and its turbulent history and notable monks and abbots are mentioned many times in the annals. One of its most famous abbots was St Laurence O'Toole who became Archbishop of Dublin in 1163 and was the first canonised Irish saint. Glendalough contains the remains of at least seven churches, a Round Tower, a High Cross and many other structures. The monuments are spread over about 3km. Some of them are clustered round the bottom of the Upper Lake with another cluster a short distance below the Lower Lake. There are several isolated monuments.

A short distance to the west of the Visitor's Centre the main body of the site may be entered through the remains of the Gateway. This is the only surviving example in Ireland. It is a square building with round arches in the north and south walls and was originally two storey.

The most visible monument from the Gateway is the Round Tower. This is about 31m high. The doorway is about 1.7m high and about 3m above ground level. The conical cap was rebuilt in 1876 using original stones.

A short distance to the south of the Round Tower is a small building called the Priest's House.

It has the remains of a Romanesque arch on the exterior of the east wall and a carved panel over the south doorway. This is now incomplete and very worn. It apparently depicted a robed central figure with a kneeling figure on either side.

To the east of the Priest's House is a large nave-and-chancel church known as the Cathedral.

This has a flat-headed west doorway with inclined jambs and a fragmentary Romanesque chancel arch.

There are some interesting gravestones attached to the inner wall of the church and a very fine bullaun stone built into the base of the north wall of the chancel.

A short distance to the south of the Cathedral is a tall plain high Cross with an unpierced ring.

A short distance south east of the Priest's House is St Kevin's Church or St Kevin's Kitchen.

This is the only surviving roofed building at Glendalough. It was originally a small rectangular single-celled church with a croft in the roof and a belfry (round tower) at the west end. There is a lintelled west doorway with inclined jambs.

A chancel and sacristy were added in the east but the chancel has now been removed. Beside the church is a very fine bullaun stone. A short distance away is the low ruin of a small nave-and-chancel church known as St Kieran's Church. In the field to the west of this cluster of monuments is another nave-and-chancel church known as St Mary's Church. This has a very fine saltire cross inscribed on the underside of the lintel. On the other side of the river, near the path to the Upper Lake, is a large bullaun stone known as the Deer Stone.

For details of other Round Towers click on the links below

Antrim, Co Antrim Armoy, Co Antrim St Mullin’s, Co Carlow Drumlane, Co Cavan Drumcliff, Co Clare Dysert O’Dea, Co Clare Cloyne, Co Cork Kinneigh, Co Cork Tory Island, Co Donegal Drumbo, Co Down Maghera, Co Down Nendrum, Co Down Lusk, Co Dublin Swords, Co Dublin Devenish, Co Fermanagh Kilbennan, Co Galway Kilmacduagh, Co Galway Roscam, Co Galway Aghadoe, Co Kerry Ratoo, Co Kerry Castledermott, Co Kildare Kildare, Co Kildare Kilcullen, Co Kildare Oughterard, Co Kildare Taghadoe, Co Kildare Aghaviller, Co Kilkenny Grangefertagh, Co Kilkenny Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny Kilree, Co Kilkenny Tullaherin, Co Kilkenny Timahoe, Co Laois Kilmallock, Co Limerick Dromiskin, Co Louth Monasterboice, Co Louth Aghagower, Co Mayo Balla, Co Mayo Killala, Co Mayo Meelick, Co Mayo Turlough, Co Mayo Donaghmore, Co Meath Kells, Co Meath Clones, Co Monaghan Clonmacnois, Co Offaly Boyle, Co Roscommon Oran, Co Roscommon Drumcliffe, Co Sligo Cashel, Co Tipperary Roscrea, Co Tipperary Ardmore, Co Waterford

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