We recovered from our night of craic in Graiguenamanagh to prepare for our departure for parts further north. But we had a couple stops before we reached our next stop of Dublin. First of them was Glendalough. A thrilling journey through the pass south of Glendalough that really kept me on my toes. Had I not been in a relative hurry to get to our first touristy destination, I would have made a stop or two in the pass because there was some beautiful scenery. Not only were there valleys and mountains, there were ruined monasteries and such. And sheep right next to the road made the trip that much more exciting.
We arrived at Glendalough at lunchtime, just after everyone else. The main parking lot was closed, so we parked in a field behind "The Glendalough" hotel. It wasn't a bad place to park, as there was a walkway to the visitors center. But before that, we went to the hotel's sandwich shop for a bite by the creek nearby. It was a pleasant, inexpensive lunch, one tailor made for people running behind and in need of a quick bite.
The Glendalough visitors center was sort-of interesting. It really depends on your interest level in historic Irish monastic sites. As we were not terribly interesting, we didn't spent too much time poking around or watching the video. Oh, and the visitor center is NOT free. We happened to have the Irish Heritage pass (because we were awesome like that), so it was free for us.
Ireland is a very popular destination for tourists, with good reason. Many places were busy (the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty come to mind), but Glendalough was a different animal entirely. The place was overrun with non-Irish teenagers. In groups on the lawn. In groups on the paths. In all directions were groups with radios. It was noisy and off-putting, and not even remotely enjoyable. Had we arrived earlier, Glendalough would have been a much more enjoyable experience. As it was, it was disappointing.
Aside from that, the site itself was interesting. We were free to wander the grounds and cemetery at will and explore. The site was settled by St. Kevin in the 6th century, which continued until 1398 when the English forces turned the living site into a ruin. Not nice.
The round tower at Glendalough is 30 meters high. When you see Vikings coming, head for the tower. Unless they're Haslett Vikings - those Vikings are OK.