Celtic and Old English Saints          3 June

* St. Kevin of Glendalough
* St. Cronan the Tanner
* St. Glunshallaich

Glendalough - Monastery and School

Glendalough (the Valley of the Two Lakes) is a picturesque and lonely
glen in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains. The fame of its monastic
school is due to its founder, St. Kevin. Kevin (Irish Coemghen, the
fair-begotten) was born near Rathdrum towards the close of the fifth
century, and lived to the age of 120 years. His earliest tutor was St.
Petroc of Cornwall, who had come to Leinster about 492, and devoted
himself with considerable ardour to the study of the Sacred Scriptures,
in which his pupil also became proficient. Kevin next studied under his
uncle, St. Eugenius, afterwards Bishop of Ardstraw, who at that time
lived at Kilnamanagh in Wicklow, where he taught his pupils all the
sacred learning which he had acquired in the famous British monastery of

Young Kevin was at this time a handsome youth, and had unconsciously won
the affections of a beautiful maiden, who once followed him to the
woods. The young saint perceiving her, threw himself into a bed of
nettles, and then gathering a handful scourged the maiden with the
burning weeds. "The fire without", says the biographer, "extinguished
the fire within", and Kathleen repenting became a saint. There is no
foundation for the story, which Moore has wedded to immortal verse, that
Kevin flung the unhappy Kathleen from his cave, in the face of Ludguff,
into the depths of the lake below. Kevin then retired into the wilds of
the Glendalough valley, where he spent many years in a narrow cave,
living alone with God in the practice of extreme asceticism. In the
course of time, holy men gathered round him, and induced him to build
the monastery, whose ruins still remain lower down in the more open
valley to the east. Here his fame as a saint and scholar attracted
crowds of disciples, so that Glendalough became for the east of Ireland
what the Arran Islands were for the west -- a great school of sacred
learning, and a noviciate in which the young saints and clergy were
trained in virtue and self-denial.

One of the most celebrated of the pupils of St. Kevin at Glendalough was
St. Moling, founder of the well-known monastery called from him St.
Mullins on the left bank of the Barrow in the southwest of the County
Carlow. Like his master Kevin, he was a man of learning and extreme
austerity, living, it is said, for a long time, as Kevin did, in a
hollow tree. He was also an
elegant writer both in Latin and in Irish. Several Irish poems have been
attributed to him, his prophecies were in wide circulation, and the
"Yellow Book of St. Moling" was one of those which Keating had in his
hands, but which has since been unfortunately lost.

The existing ruins at Glendalough still form a very striking scene in
that wildly beautiful mountain valley. Within the area of the original
enclosure are the great church, a cathedral, built probably in the time
of St. Kevin, a fine round tower still 110 feet in height, the building
called St. Kevin's Cro or kitchen, and the Church of the Blessed Virgin,
for whom Kevin, like most of the Irish saints, had a particular
devotion. The building called St. Kevin's kitchen was doubtless the
private oratory and sleeping chamber of the saint, the latter being in
the croft overhead, as in St. Columba's house at Kells.

HEALY, Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars;
LANIGAN, History of Ireland (Dublin, 1827);
PETRIE, Round Towers;
O'HANLON, Lives of the Irish Saints

Some articles and photographs of Saint Kevin's Glendalough:--

1) MONASTIC IRELAND: Glendalough Co. Wicklow

2) http://ubik.virtual-pc.com/aduffy/monastic/monastic4.html

3) The Church of Saint Kevin at Glandalough

4) The Round Tower at Glendalough

5) A Virtual Tour of Glendalough

6) Irish Monastic Sites in photographs

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