Ah, the Emerald Isle of rolling hills, bucolic villages and ancient ruins. Away from the bustle of Dublin City, this is the Ireland most know and dream of visiting.
While visiting Dublin I took a day tour on a bus out to County Wicklow on a beautiful clear-skied sunny day (the only sunny day during my stay in Ireland) – the timing and weather was perfect. Over the years I’ve become a mountains and lakes kind of guy…with upstate New York and western North Carolina being my favorite stateside haunts. Ireland’s County Wicklow is like some fever-dream version of those verdant visions…the shapes more dramatic, the sheep fluffier, the lakes darker, the tall tales spun there taller, the ghosts older…full of something more ancient and fecund…and land so inspiring I couldn’t help but be touched as a wicked little short story (perhaps even a novella?) was born in my mind as I strolled the trails of Glendalough (which ooze a peacefulness coupled with that eerie sense of “other” hidden in the woods and the hills) and heard a stray sheep bleating unseen lost in some bush. The monastic ruins in Glendalough (dating back over a thousand years) were like nothing I’ve ever seen in person and spoke of a thousand ghosts and stories. It’s not surprising that County Wicklow has become a popular filming location with TV shows like BBC’s classic Ballykissangel and The History Channel’s The Vikings and films like The Quiet Man, Ryan’s Daughter, Saving Private Ryan, Michael Collins, Excalibur, Braveheart, and P.S. I Love You (whether actually taking place in Ireland or not) having made appropriate use of the photogenic environs. Marvel at the mountains and lakes, the turf cutting through peat bogs and the trickling source of the River Liffey, and dream of all the stories told and untold that haunt the space.
Tour Stops –
- Glencree – a picturesque little spot with a nice café, armory ruins, and a creepy-beautiful little grotto dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
- Luggala Mountain and the Big Black Lake at Sally Gap – perhaps Wicklow County’s most famous pieces of scenery (and the backdrop for The History Channel’s ongoing series The Vikings). Pictures can’t really capture how stunning it is to stand there.
- Glendalough – home of the monastic ruins and amazing hiking trails around two lakes and a waterfall.
- Avoca – a quaint little village where the local pub serves a killer Guinness Stew and Ireland’s oldest weaving mill makes its home.
And now for the photos:
Written and Photographed by David H. Schleicher
Side Note – On the cab ride to the airport the chatty cab driver asked about what I had seen on holiday. I told him, of course, about the trip to Glendalough and Wicklow County, and he proceeded to ask me if I had also been to Newgrange. Sadly I had not, and he regailed to me epic tales of the Neolithic site in County Meath that almost prompted me to ask him to turn around so I could cancel my flight, stay another day and visit Newgrange. Alas, for next time, Ireland!