Friday, August 08, 2008

Ireland: Day 9

Today we depart Waterford to ultimately end up in Dublin. Along the way, we made another pass through Wexford. Did you know that the Kennedys have roots in Ireland and often vacationed on their estate in Wexford? Yeah, me either. We stopped for a photo op with the JFK statue along the waterfront (and ironically next to another example of a coffin ship).

Next stop - Glendalough or the "valley of the two lakes." This small town is nestled in the Wicklow Mountains in County Wicklow, also known as the Garden of Ireland. Braveheart was filmed here b/c of easier access to scenery similar to the Scottish Highlands, which just aren't very easy to get to by any mode of inexpensive transportation.

Sir Kevin, who devoted his life to God, wanted solitude with God and thought the mountains would be an excellent place. He went to Glendalough and called it home, though there was no town or village there at the time. He was literally alone. Unfortunately, Sir Kevin had a reputation as a healer and great spiritual leader. His solitude in the mountains was soon shattered as people learned his whereabouts and a town literally developed around him.

Glendalough, aside from its scenery, is best known for its monastery and round tower. The monks commissioned its construction. There are many theories as to the round tower's purpose. Some argue they were built as look-out towers for the Vikings. Others believe they were simply bell towers meant to call the monks to prayer. Still others theorize they are some kind of "sign post." At 30 meters high, it's easy to agree with any one of these ideas.

We had several hours to tour the grounds - see the round tower, the cemetery, the old Monastery & some of its ruins. We walked down from the top of the hill - well, some of us did - through the winding woodsy footpath. It was lovely & definitely serene. The grounds were quite busy, so it wasn't as quiet as it might have been had we gone on a weekday. But it was still peaceful. The site of the tower & ruins, however, was certainly overcrowded & full of noisy kids. Apparently, every touring band of youth had descended upon the grounds at the same time. Ugh.

We gave a very brief outdoor concert - the rain halted us long about song number three. Which, quite frankly, was fine by all of us as none of us was particularly "into it." We had some free time for lunch before heading into Dublin for the afternoon for last-minute shopping & then on to our hotel by the airport for a quiet evening & farewell dinner.

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