Glendalough "the glen of the two lakes", is a truly spellbinding place - an ancient monastic settlement and two clear water lakes beneath the sheer cliffs of a deep valley which was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age. The monastic settlement has been a centre for pilgrims and visitors since its foundation by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Kevin is thought to have come from the more fertile lands of County Kildare and like many other men of sanctity in early times, desired solitude for his life of prayer and contemplation. Thus he withdrew into the thinly peopled mountains and set up his hermitage at Glendalough.
The settlement expanded and flourished for many years before being finally destroyed in the 16th century. The present remains, some of the most important of their kind in Ireland, tell only a small part of the monastic story. The buildings which survive - round tower, cathedral, stone churches and decorated crosses - probably date from between the 8th and 12th centuries. The famous Round Tower, about 34m high and 16m in circumference at the base, is still in near perfect condition even though it is almost 1,000 years old.
The excellent Glendalough Visitor Centre provides regular exhibitions, informative guided tours of the monastic site as well as an audio-visual show about the rich heritage of the area.
Elsewhere around the upper and lower lakes there are a number of well-known walking routes, which allow visitors to take in as much or as little of the surrounding scenery as they wish.
Once the monastic capital of Europe, Glendalough attracts up to 500,000 visitors annually. The ruins of the seven churches and the 6th century round tower owe their origins to St. Kevin, the hermit who founded the monastic city and who lived in a cave - St. Kevin's Bed - overlooking the Upper Lake.
Avondale House & Parnell National Memorial Park, Rathdrum
Avondale House was the birthplace and home of Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891) one of the greatest political leaders in Irish history. You can visit and tour the beautiful Georgian House, AV presentation and magnificent forest park of over 500 acres. The beautiful Georgian House, designed by James Wyatt and built in 1777 contains fine plasterwork and many original pieces of furniture.
The Memorial Park contains walks, restful seating areas, ponds and a beautiful bronze statue of Parnell and the Feagh McHugh O'Byrne Commemorative Stone.
Wicklow Mountains National Park, Laragh
Wicklow Mountains National Park was established in 1991 and is one of six National Parks in Ireland managed by Duchas - The Heritage Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. The Park consists of a core area of 3,700 ha around the Upper Lake at Glendalough and the mountains around the Glenealo River to the west. A number of other upland areas have been acquired, the largest of which is Liffey Head Bog. The total area of the park is about 20,000 ha at present.
The Wicklow Mountains are made up of a mass of granite which was forced up to the earth's surface when the ancient continents of Europe and America collided 400 million years ago. The molten granite crushed and baked the surface sedimentary rocks (slates and schists), forming mica - schists, much of which has now been weathered away. The boundary between the granite and mica-schists, holds high concentrations of lead, tin, copper, iron, and zinc, which were mined in various parts of Wicklow including Glendalough.
Brittas Bay Beach
Brittas Bay is one of the finest beaches on the east coast and is the most popular beach for day-tripping Dubliners eager to get out of the city on a summer day. Brittas has a 2 mile/3.2km stretch of powdery sand and sand dune system, which is a designated area of significant interest. The dunes are home to many interesting wildlife species and plants, including a number of rare species.
Wicklow Gaol, Wicklow Town
A two million pound restoration and interpretive plan has been carried out by Wicklow County Council to develop the old county Gaol which is situated at the southern end of Wicklow Town, beside the Courthouse (where many of the inmates were tried and sentenced), and adjacent to Market Square.
There has been a gaol on this site since 1702 and it remained active until 1924. During this time thousands of prisoners, young and old, men, women and children, guilty and innocent passed through its doors. The story of Wicklow's Historic Gaol is their story.
The interpretative design related to the history of the Gaol through the eyes of its inmates. Key periods covered are the 1798 Rebellion, the Famine, Life in Gaol during the 18th and 19th Centuries and Transportation to the Penal Colonies of Australia.
The exhibition uses a unique combination of audio visual material, interactive displays, reconstruction and actors to bring history to life and to involve the visitor in the amazing stories that surround historical events.
Actors portray the characters of The Gaoler, Billy Byrne - A Rebel of 1798 and Luckyn Betts, The Ship's Captain. Visitors can experience first hand from these characters what life was like during this period. The highpoint of the visit is the reconstruction of the prison ship - Hercules - which visitors can climb aboard and learn about life above and below deck in the company of the Ship's Captain.
Greenan Farm Museum & Maze
The farm museum presents exhibits going back over 200 years when traditional hill farming used only the horse.
The maze was planted in 1988 and a stream flows through it to a pond in the circular centre, which is surprisingly difficult to find.
Avoca Village is the location of the very popular BBC TV Series "Ballykissangel". The village set includes the Church of Saints Mary and Patrick, built in 1862 and "Fitzgeralds" the local watering hole. Avoca is situated in a picturesque valley, which extends from the Meting of the Waters to Woodenbridge and is at a focal point of route ways from Arklow, Aughrim, Woodenbridge, Rathdrum and Redcross. Local tourist attractions include forest and hill walks, the Mottee Stone, Avoca Handweavers, craft shops, traditional music, trout fishing, golfing and the Meeting of the Waters. The Avoca Melody Fair also takes place here in late May or early June.
The Meeting of the Waters, Avoca
At the Meeting of the Waters, 3km north of Avoca, the Avonmore and Avonbeg rivers come together to form the river Avoca. Here on a rustic seat, formed from the root of a tree, the poet Thomas Moore is said to have written the words of the Irish Melody, "The Meeting of the Waters".
"There is not in this wide world a valley so sweet, As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet; Oh! The last rays of feeling and life must depart Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart" - Extract: Thomas Moore "the Meeting of the Waters"
Aughrim is situated in a very scenic area near where the Ow and Derry Rivers meet surrounded by woodland hills in South County Wicklow. It has won the tidiest village in County Wicklow award from 1996-2000. In this charming neat compact village, there is a number of charming granite terraced houses throughout the village. A plaque on the bridge commemorates Anne Devlin, who was employed by and supported Robert Emmet, a rebel who was hanged in 1803 for his leadership of an abortive revolution.
Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford
These lovely gardens, laid along the banks of the Vartry River at Ashford are "a must" for visitors to the county. Mount Usher is a wild, Robinsonian garden dating from approx 1860. The gardens measure 20 acres & contain over 5,000 different species of plants & trees. Water forms an essential part of the scenery with cascades & suspension bridges. There is a tearoom & a shopping courtyard with many craft & other selective shops. Special evening events & guided tours during the season.
Powerscourt House & Gardens
One of the World's Great Gardens. Powerscourt is situated 19km (12 miles) south of Dublin in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. It is a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statuary and ornamental lakes together with secret hollows, rambling walks and over 200 varieties of trees and shrubs.
The 18th Century Palladian House now incorporates an innovative shopping experience, terrace cafe and house exhibition. Facilities include speciality shops, interiors gallery, garden pavilion and two 18-hole, championship golf courses.
Thank you to Wicklow Tourism and Wicklow Film Commission for allowing us to use there beautiful photos.