Gateway to the City – Glendalough

Gateway to Glendalough (1)

Entering the City

Next on my journey through the wonderful Monastic City of Glendalough and in no particular order is the Ancient Gateway. As it happens today is the feast day of St. Kevin (Cóemgen). Yesterday I mentioned that he was a member of one of the ruling clans of Leinster. Last night I found out that the clan was Dál Messin Corb. They are said to have been the last of the Dumnonians whom ruled in the 5th century under the tribal name of Dál Messin Corb. Interestingly the Dumnonians are believed to be a descendant tribe of the Fir Bolg, an ancient race whom inhabited Ireland prior to the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milsean invasions as told in the Lebor Gabála Érenn. The Fir Bolg in turn are said to be descendant from the Nemedians, a race whom settled in Ireland many years previous. If this is true then Kevin could very well be related back to the line of Noah from the biblical floods.

Gateway to Glendalough (2)

The Inner Arch

Anyway back to today’s post, in its day Glendalough was enclosed by a circular wall. Very little remains of the original wall, with the exception of a magnificent Archway enterance. Unfortunately most people visiting Glendalough enter the site by the visitor’s center and miss out on the experience of walking in the footsteps of the early Christian monks entering the Monastic City. Walking up the steps and through the picturesque double arches towards the settlement is an experience not to be forgotten. Just imagine what it would have been like back then? There were no roads as we know them; travel consisted of walking, horseback or cart. And not to forget, Glendalough rests in the middle of a glacial Valley, surrounded by treacherous mountains miles away from civilization. The city must have been an awe inspiring sight to behold back then. To the left of the steps there was a lady whom was playing some rather haunting tunes on the Uilleann Pipes, with her music for sale on various CD’s. Then across the road there were various traders hoping to sell their wares to the vast number of tourists whom visit this site.

Gateway to Glendalough (3)

The Sanctuary Stone

The structure was originally two stories high, with two granite arches. The remaining projecting walls indicate that it would have had a timber roof. A Gate Keeper may well have lived on the second storey. The arches were built with Roman style columns which meant that the stones were cut to fit, no mortar was used in the construction. As the principal entrance to the city, it has the distinction of being the only surviving entrance to an early ecclesiastical settlement. Just inside the inner arch, in the west wall, there is a large rectangular slab which bears a carved cross of an unusual design. It is commonly believed to be a sanctuary mark which ensured protection to anyone seeking refuge within the confines of the monastery.

Gateway to Glendalough (4)

View leaving the City

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Photography, Religious Sites and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Gateway to the City – Glendalough

  1. Line says:

    Oh, I have been there!! 🙂 It is amazing!! 🙂

  2. Ali Isaac says:

    Amazing Ed! You really capture the atmosphere with your images, and build it for us sith your words. Nice research on St Kev’s clan btw!

    • Thanks Ali, its so bloody interesting. Who knows what else I will come across whilst finishing this series. The book of invasions is a great source for our ancient history, but I sometimes wonder how true it is. As it was written by monks whom seemed to link everything back to the Bible. I wonder how impartial their record keeping was 🙂

      • Ali Isaac says:

        Not only did they impose their religious beliefs on it, they completely underplayed the role of women in ancient Ireland, and altered it to benefit their wealthy patrons, thus ensuring continued financial support. The Book of Invasions is a wonderful resource and fascinating insight into the past, but we will never be able to pull the truth out of it. best just enjoy it for what it is.

  3. Veda says:

    Beautiful pic

  4. faithsfire says:

    Now, this really inspires the muse. Thanks! 🙂

  5. I like the archways – one can only imagine the number of footsteps that have passed underneath.

  6. lizbert1 says:

    Very atmospheric photos, great post as always!

  7. lauramacky says:

    Looks like a great place to go!

  8. prcallahan says:

    Love the old ruins of Ireland. I didn’t get to go to many on my fast paced tour of the British Isles. One day I will have to make it back. Great photos!

  9. John says:

    This series is so fascinating, love this!! The ancient history engulfs you…

  10. colonialist says:

    Could be even further back than that, if one accepts that the historicity of Noah is questionable!

    • I agree completely. The trouble with most of our written history is that it was written down by early christian monks. How biased they were is debatable? Our ancestors had an oral tradition which meant that there is no written accounts from the period

  11. Beautiful shots, but I’m particularly drawn to the Inner Arch. I think it’s the lighting.

  12. I remember this!!! Absolutely stunning photos of a stunning place!!! I have a few photos too but none as dramatic as yours. I do like it in Black and white!!

  13. PS: and thanks for your little histories. I love them!!

  14. Thank you for liking “Topiary.” Wow, what impressive ruins! Like you, I am wondering how the monks were able to build these magnificent arches and the rest of the city with simple tools and technology. I also wonder how long it took them. Great photos and post! 🙂

  15. wonderful photography and fascinating research.

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