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St. Kevin is founder of Early Medieval monastic settlement in Glendalough

St. Kevin was born in the year 498, to a family of much nobility and close acquaintances to the King of Leister. At the age of seven, the future St. Kevin, was given to the monastery of Cornellough, where he proved himself as a monk and tried to achieve spiritual enlightenment through prayer and a connection with nature.

Even at that time there were legends about how during Easter lent a thrush sat on Kevin’s arm, but he not only didn’t scare it away but waited until it made a nest and finished raising its young.

So after St. Kevin got the stature of ‘priest’, he decided to seclude himself faraway from civilisation and chose a place called Glendalough, where in the peaceful forest and two lakes, he dedicates himself to the teachings of God and the Christian religion. He was so focused on this aim that he didn’t give into a local woman’s demands for attention. This may have stayed a secret if it wasn’t for the strength St. Kevin put into not paying attention to her pestering.

Glendalough in Wicklow National Park

St. Kevin lived near the Upper Lake in Glendalough, in a cave that you can still see today. It is called St. Kevin’s Bed. St. Kevin dedicated all his time to prayer, leaving only for refectory. He ate things he found in the forest and fish that was brought to him by an otter. Legend has it that he met this animal while he was praying.

It is hard to say why but he sometimes prayed in the water, not caring about the season. On one of these praying sessions St. Kevin dropped his prayer book into the water and the otter gave it back to him. After that the otter started to catch fish for him.

So alone lived St. Kevin for seven years, seeking spiritual wisdom, until the locals found out about him. This is how it happened. A local farmer with the Russian name of Dima somehow realised that his cow started giving an abnormally large amount of milk. So then he decided to investigate the place where his cow grazed. To his amazement he found out that his cow runs off to St. Kevin and simply licks his feet.

So then the locals, who were still pagans, learned about St. Kevin’s existence. He convinced them to join the Christian religion and help him build a monastery in Glendalough. There is actually another interesting legend connected to this story.

The king, who owned the area of Glendalough, was a pagan himself was suspicious about the new religion. So when St. Kevin asked him for permission to build a monastery in Glendalough the king agreed but on the condition that he would witness a miracle.

The king wanted to see his old sick goose turn become young and healthy. He also added that he will only give the area that his goose could fly around. So St. Kevin touched the goose and the miracle happened. The goose not only managed to fly but also managed to fly the width of the two lakes. So this how St. Kevin managed to get the land of Glendalough.

Upper Lake in Glendalough, Wicklow National Park

There are also a couple more legends surrounding the name St. Kevin. One of them states that, during the construction of the monasteries in Glendalough, the volunteer – farmers decided to start work when the larks began to sing and finish when the lambs fell asleep. But it turned out that the birds began singing very early and that the farmers didn’t have time to rest. So St. Kevin banned the birds from singing. Coincidentally, to this day you cannot hear larks singing in Glendalough.

Here is another legend surrounding St. Kevin. A young man that was ill with epilepsy had a dream that he could rid himself of the illness by eating an apple from the monastery. But sadly there were no apple trees in the monastery of Glendalough. So then St. Kevin commanded the willows that grew in Glendalough to grow apples. Apples did grow and not only cured the young man but continued to grow for another 400 years.

Lower Lake in Glendalough, Wicklow National Park

During its lifetime Glendalough endured many Viking raids, but was destroyed by the English in the end of the XIV era. Thankfully, St. Kevin didn’t witness this since he died long before that, on the 3rd of June 618, managing to live for 120 years! But Glendalough didn’t lose its religious properties when it was destroyed. To this day thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit Glendalough in Wicklow National Park.

We were so immersed in telling you about St. Kevin and the town of monks that we didn’t have time to tell you about the fact that this place is unusually beautiful. Two lakes surrounded by mountains covered with forest, the Poulanass waterfall and the monastic settlement of Glendalough amazed us with their primordial look. And all this is kept very neat and tidy. Also, the diverse amount of picnic areas, two large pedestrian paths and a cafe will not only let you immerse yourself history of Ireland but also unwind and relax.

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