Laragh & Glendalough

Laragh & Glendalough

An Láithreach (possibly from An Lár meaning centre, although there is some mystery surrounding this) is a village in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.  Less than 2km from Glendalough, Laragh is a lively village with a thriving community located on the Glenmacaass River just above where it joins the Avonmore River.  The village itself was part of a centre of resistance from medieval times up to 1798 when the area was home to many of the rebels who supported Michael Dwyer.  The Military Road built in the early 1800s to root out the rebels in the mountains passes through Laragh.

Points of Interest in Laragh & Glendalough

Glendalough, the Glen of the two lakes, is one of the most beautiful and best-known places in Wicklow. The landscape of the area was carved into breath-taking u-shaped valleys during the last ice age surrounded by a ring of granite mountains with summits reaching 699 metres.

Glendalough is also the site of the most important early Christian settlement in Europe.  St. Kevin (b.498-d.618AD) founded a monastery here. His reputation as a hermit and holy man drew many followers and the settlement became a place of pilgrimage and scholarship. Although Glendalough is also known as the Seven Churches, there are actually the remains of eight churches in the area.

The Upper Lake of Glendalough lies about 1.5km west of the village of Glendalough. From the Glendalough Visitor Centre which serves the Monastic City, the Upper Lake is a pleasant 20 minute walk along a woodland path signposted as the ‘Green Road’. First you pass the Lower Lake and then the magnificent view of the Upper Lake greets you. Alternatively you can drive directly to the Upper Lake where parking is provided. This is a popular recreational and picnic area and is a starting point for a variety of walks. Advice about both walks and wildlife is to be found at the Information Office there.

The semi-natural oak woods extend from the Upper Lake to the lower slopes of Derrybawn Mountain (approx. 106m).

The Green Road runs along the floor of the valley from the woollen mills in Laragh passing St. Saviour’s Church on the right, the Visitor Centre, the Lower Lake and finally reaching the Upper Lake in Glendalough.

Offers ‘semi-private retreats’ based on Celtic Spirituality with morning reflections and plenty of time to enjoy the spirituality of Glendalough.

Retreat centre for people of all faiths who need time for reflection and guidance in their lives.

Founded to mark the beginning of the Third Millenium where people of all faiths seeking spiritual renewal through retreat and pilgrimage are welcome

Built in the early 1930s, it operated as a two teacher school until 1990.  A number of extensions allowed an increase in student numbers.

Built in gothic design about 1847 as part of a famine relief programme.

Built around 1855 using rubble and a slated roof, it is now derelict but it is still in its original form.

Built by the local community in 2001.  It is used by the community for all types of recreation.  Full internet access for visitor use.

The priest’s house built by William Byrne around 1864 has recently been totally restored to its original design.

Roman Catholic Church of simple gothic design built around 1847.  It was built along with St. John’s Church as part of a famine relief programme.  A millennium garden was opened in the church grounds in 2002.

Built and opened in 1988, it provides an excellent interpretation of the coming of St. Kevin and Christianity to the valley and the information on other monastic sites around Ireland.  It is open all year and provides an exhibition and guided walks of the monastic settlement.

The remains of an early Christian monastic settlement first established by St. Kevin in the 6th century.  The monks abandoned the settlement centuries ago but many of the hand-built stone buildings such as the round tower, cathedral and St. Kevin’s Church still stand.

Wicklow Mountains National Park covers much of the Wicklow Mountains (including most of the land in Glendalough Valley) and is managed for nature conservation and public recreation.  The National Park Information Office, open weekends all year and daily from May to September, provides maps of the nine colour coded walking trails and has an exhibition on wildlife in the area.  Entry is free.

This building is used by the National Park for a wide range of education programmes (schools welcome by appointment) and also for National Park lectures and events. See

A wooden sign on the Miners Road points across the lake to St. Kevin’s Bed which is in a small cave about 10m above the surface of the Upper Lake in Glendalough. It is 2m long and 1.5m high and is reputed to have been a sleeping and retreat place for St. Kevin.

Mining was carried on in Glendalough at various times from 1798 until 1947. The remains of some of the old mining sites can still be seen today up by the Miners Road and in the Glendaran Valley. Minerals such as lead, zinc and silver were mined here.