A travel blog of Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand

Glendalough revisited


We have been to Glendalough twice before. It is an hour or so’s drive from Dublin in Wicklow to the south and is the site of one of the most important monastic settlements in Ireland dating from the 6th century. It is beautiful countryside and you do get a strong feeling of peace and tranquility which is why we enjoy returning there.

There are many parts of Ireland that have a definite “spirituality”, however you define that. I think it is perhaps a coming together of the millennia of habitation together with the natural beauty and presence of the landscape and the elements that have formed it. I don’t have words to put it any more eloquently than that but I think that the great mystic Irish poet, W B Yeats does.

I have therefore decided, for this post, to show some of my photos of the Glendalough landscape accompanied by words from Yeats’ poems that I believe may be relevant to the images. Of course, they are out of context but his words do conjure up powerful, if at times, obscure, images in their own right. Below each photo is a matching extract from Yeats. Then at the end a few photos without caption which I thought were also worth including. Perhaps you can compose your own poetry for these!

Interestingly, Yeats also wrote a poem entitled Who Goes with Fergus? It’s a complex poem with several layers of meaning and I doubt very much whether he was thinking of me when he wrote it but nevertheless, I will leave you with the invitation of the first three lines:

Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?

Glen02Here, traveller, scholar, poet, take your stand
When all these rooms and passages are gone,
When nettles wave upon a shapeless mound
And saplings root among the broken stone 
(Coole Park)


I know of the leafy paths that the witches take
Who come with their crowns of pearl and their spindles of wool,
And their secret smile, out of the depths of the lake;
(The Withering of the Boughs}


Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
(He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven)


O hurry where by water among the trees
The delicate-stepping stag and his lady sigh,
When they have but looked upon their images –
Would none had ever loved but you and I!
(The Ragged Wood)


O hurry to the ragged wood, for there
I will drive all those lovers out and cry –
O my share of the world, O yellow hair!
No one has ever loved but you and I!
(The Ragged Wood)

Glen07Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.
(The Coming of Wisdom with Time)


I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
(The Lake Isle of Innisfree)


I wander by the edge
Of this desolate lake
Where wind cries in the sedge:
(He Hears the Cry of the Sedge)


A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
(Easter 1916)

Glen11 Glen13 Glen14


5 thoughts on “Glendalough revisited

  1. Hewitt Harrison

    Wonderful, Bruce! My photos (of our visit in late June) bear some similarity but do not match the quality. We, of course, were on a conducted tour (Day Trip!!) so our time at Glendalough was limited – no, better described as rushed! So, we did not have the pleasure of a leisurely visit with appropriate time to absorb and reflect, and I am definitely unable to bring Yeats to the occasion as poetry/poets was an aspect of English I failed in miserable fashion!! We were lucky and had a wonderful driver/courier who had an enormous wealth of knowledge, Perhaps some may have been a little of the traditional ‘blarney’, but overall an excellent narrative accompanied our brief visit. Thank you.

  2. Ruth Gorinski

    Glorious photos Pip (Bruce) and Yeats is a most fitting commentary. I have greatly enjoyed these beautiful shots…thank you for sharing xxx

    1. Pip

      He does a grand job, to be sure! Keeping you in my prayers for future direction; will look forward to catching up next year.xxx, Pip

  3. Fiona

    Lovely marrying of words and pictures! You could make them into a book (what’s the copyright on Yeats?) – one of those glossy-pictures-for-daily-meditation-type things. Call it Drive With Ferguson, of course….

  4. Sueze Morris

    Wow, it was like I was watching Lord of the Rings, those pictures are stunning. Hope you are passing them on and getting some $$$’s for them

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