Places to See in Ireland: Glendalough

Sunday, October 19, 2014

During my last semester at NYU, I took a class on James Joyce. I'll be honest and say that I'm not the biggest Joyce fan (although I love The Dubliners), but this particular class included a trip to Ireland over spring break. As Joyce's fascination with his hometown is central to every one of his texts, and seeing as I had never been to Ireland, I knew had to apply. It ended up being an incredible class, and one of my favorites at NYU, for lots of reasons besides the trip. But the trip itself was extraordinary. Even in cold and rainy March, Ireland made a big impression.

Most of our week's trip was spent in Dublin, but we did have a couple days of excursions outside of the city. As luck had it, the nicest weather of the trip coincided with our trip to Glendalough. Glendalough (or Glendaloch) is an old Irish monastery dating back to the sixth century. The settlement is set in a breathtaking valley and is surrounded by a lake and forested mountains. The buildings themselves were partially destroyed in 1398 and are now mostly ruins, but they still make an impressive sight, set against the stunning scenery.

The graveyard and round tower surrounding the monastery are mostly intact, and fun to explore. Since we were traveling in a school group, we looked through the museum and took a guided tour of the monastery before splitting up to explore on our own. There are plenty of hiking and walking trails in the surrounding landscape. I chose to wander a bit into the forests and then down the trails by the water. It was such a relief to be out in nature on a beautiful, mild day after 4 months of snow and cold in New York. After a few hours of peace, the class met back up to eat at one of the town's two dining options (pub or hotel), and then took the bus back to Dublin.

As much as I loved Dublin for its culture and people, it was the Irish countryside and landscapes which really made an impression on me. Glendalough's combination of beauty and history encapsulates the spirit of Ireland.

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  1. It's seems like such a cool experience to study a person's work and then go see where they are actually from, the places that inspired them. I'd love to visit the Irish countryside.

    1. It was a really special trip! I hope you get to see Ireland.


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