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Glendalough, Wicklow, the valley of the two lakes, is renowned for it's Early Medieval monastic settlement founded by St Kevin in the 6th century.

Kevin, or Coemhghein in Irish, meaning "fair begotten" a descendant of one of the ruling families in Leinster. St Kevin studied, as a boy under the care of three holy men, Eoghan, Lochan, and Eanna. During this time he went to Glendalough and lived, we are told, "in the hollow of a tree". He later returned with a small group of monks to found a monastery where the two rivers form a confluence. His fame as a holy man spread and he attracted numerous followers. St Kevin died about 618 AD. For six centuries afterwards Glendalough flourished, and the Irish Annals have reference to the death of abbots and raids on the settlement at Glendalough.

At the Synod of Rath Breasail in 1111 AD, Glendalough was designated as one of the two dioceses of North Leinster. St Laurence O'Toole, born 1128, became abbot of Glendalough and was well known for his sanctity and hospitality. Even after his appointment as Archbishop of Dublin in 1162, he returned occasionally to Glendalough to the solitude of St Kevin's Bed. He died in Eu, Normandy, in 1180 AD.

In 1214 the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin were united and from that time onwards the cultural and ecclesiastical status of Glendalough diminished. The destruction of the settlement by English forces in 1398 left it a ruin, however it continued as a church of local importance and a place of pilgrimage. Descriptions of Glendalough in the 18th and 19th century include reference to occasions of "riotous assembly" on the feast of St Kevin, June 3rd.

The present remains in Glendalough tell only a small part of the story. The monastery in its heyday would have included workshops, areas for manuscript writing and copying, guest houses, an infirmary, and farm buildings and dwelling for both monks and a large lay population. The buildings which survive probably date from between the 10th and 12th century.

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