St Kevin’s journey started at such a place, called Hollywood. It’s still there, a perfectly lovely little village.
Some time in the early 7th century he set out barefoot. As the heather turned to rocks and foul weather set in, St Kevin battled on, finally reaching a high pass so desolate a lesser man might have fallen to his knees in dread.
Suffering in the wilderness, however, is sweet justification to a pilgrim. Ahead lay promise. A snug valley, a sweet brook tumbling, protection offered by wooded hills.
St Kevin plunged forward and found his destiny. A monastery known as Glendalough was later established in the valley, a magnet for many thousands of visitors to County Wicklow today.
The remainder of St Kevin’s life, it was nothing beyond a hermit’s retreat. He lived alone on St Kevin’s Bed, a rock above a lake, where the holy man battled the demons of temptation – black knights, he called them – and he died there, still contemplating mysteries, in 618.
St Kevin’s greatest distraction, legend has it, was a woman who was determined to relieve him of his virtue. St Kevin threw himself into a bed of nettles to avoid being seduced and set fire to a handful of burning weeds to fend off his pursuer.
When all failed, the poet Gerald Griffin later wrote, St Kevin ”Hurl(ed) the maiden from the rock into the black lake shrieking”. But that, surely, was merely ghastly myth.
Join us on a spectacular half day Wicklow and Glendalough tour from Dublin. Max 16 persons on our fully guided tours.