Glendalough, Ireland

Today I’m featuring a guest post by Michele Hathaway, a freelance editor and children’s book writer. Michele spent February in Ireland. She visited other countries this winter, too (perhaps she’ll write more guest posts about those destinations). She came back with wonderful memories, several stories, and numerous photographs. Here’s her report on one part of her journey.

Glendalough entryway, stonesOf Small Things Overlooked
by Michele Hathaway

The delight of travel is in the small things discovered—the things travel pamphlets leave out, like the fact that the Tel Aviv Airport is a work of art, or that mushy peas are essential to an authentic experience of English fish and chips. You probably already know that the most memorable part of any trip is not the destination, but the journey, the people met along the way, the details. And as someone once said, God is in the details.

Glendalough river view 2I visited Glendalough, this winter–a must see on any trip to Ireland. Nestled in the mountains of County Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland. Glendalough was the site of a medieval monastic community founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin.

St. Kevin's Church
St. Kevin’s Church

The site boasts the best preserved round tower         Glendalough bell tower
in the country, St. Kevin’s  Church (known as
St. Kevin’s Kitchen), and a fascinating graveyard,
still in use today, among many other archaeological
remains.

The ruins are inspiring, but an interesting thing happened for me on this trip. Because I was the designated photographer, I saw much of the site from behind the lens of my camera—my first smart phone—and I began to see the world in a new way.

I took this photo of a cross:Glendalough Mercy Jesus CrossThen I tried this one:

Michele's 2016 tour

And then this one:

Michele's 2016 Tour, Glendalough graveyard near church and bell tower
Mercy Jesus Mercy carved on the side of the cross

Each photo drew me in closer. Each became an entirely new perspective, deeper and richer, something I would have missed had I not been pressing for more.
Glendalough mossy headstone

Perhaps my favorite photo is this one on the right with the moss-covered stone in the foreground. Who, I wondered, is buried beneath this marker, where no name now appears? Who had hewn the stone, placed it? What is the story of this life, remembered solely by God? Among the grand monuments, this was most compelling.

I have an avalanche of photos I’d love to share, but I leave it to you to one day make your way to Glendalough, to discover treasures of your own in small things overlooked.

Travel Tips
Weather: As with any travel in Ireland, you can count on rain most of the year. I was exceedingly fortunate to have two days of clear skies in February, but it was frigid. Glendalough is in the mountains, and if you go in winter be prepared for cold. Bring hiking shoes so you can take the trails to the lower and upper lakes.

Driving: If you are on a tour bus, no worries. We had a car, which was wonderful for being able to go where we wanted to go, but has its stresses. Be advised that most roads in Ireland are narrow, and many people drive quite fast. Be sure to get a GPS in your car or carry a smart phone. Keep your smart phone charged.

Lodging: We stayed at the Stirabout Lane Bed and Breakfast in Rathdrum. It was delightful as is Daphne, the owner.

Visitor’s Center: The visitor’s center is a bit old, but the staff are friendly, and the interpretive displays were quite good. There were a few books for sale, but no gift shop to speak of.

Shopping: Glendalough Woolen Mills is, by far, the best place I found on my travels to find that Irish sweater you are after.

Travel Light Humor
If you go to Ireland in summer, bring mosquito repellent. It goes without saying that there will also be more tourists, but alas, I don’t know of any repellent for them.

Michele Hathaway is a freelance editor and children’s book writer. She has an M.A. in Social Anthropology and loves all things cultural. When she’s not traveling, she’s time traveling through the magic of historical fiction. She contributes regularly to www.madaboutmghistory.blogspot.com

Thank you Michele for your insights and beautiful photographs. You’ve shined a lovely light for us on Glendalough, Ireland.

Until next time…Travel Light,
SuZan
© 2016 SuZan Klassen


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