In which is given an account of a trip to the secluded hills of Glendalough and there are far too many sheep for comfort.
Trip 3: The International Society Goes to Glendalough (GLEN-duh-lock). Location: Glendalough, County Wicklow. Bus time: 8 hours
The International Society at UL is popular with international students who want to meet other international students and see some of Ireland. The first interesting trip they (together with the Outdoor Pursuits Club) offered this term was a weekend excursion to mysterious and distant place called Glendalough, which took about three hours to reach and was probably twenty miles from anything besides sheep and tiny towns. After boarding the bus, one of the society leaders (?) informed us over the multiple different languages being spoken that we were going to stop at a supermarket on our way and buy food for the weekend. No McDonald’s anywhere near Glendalough, apparently. The market turned out to be a store with the oddly German name of Lidl and there we bought snacks and sandwich-type foods. Another hour and a half on the bus brought us to a dark foresty area where we had to walk down a gravel road to our hostel. Naturally, it was raining.
The hostel was actually pretty nice once we got the jumble of people sorted into rooms. Each room had low beds, some bunked, for 4-10 people. The bathrooms had showers with the kind of tap button you have to hold down to prevent it from shutting off and the water was generally scalding hot (okay with me; I’ve had enough bone-chilling showers in my life). But the rooms were comfortable and we could use the kitchen downstairs as long as we cleaned up after. The hostel was run by a nice man and woman whose names I never did pick up; a black cat named Cookie and a sorrow-eyed setter dog who smelled like fish could also be found running around. Breakfast and dinner were communal and just as crazy as the first night. After meals, everyone was supposed to take turns helping wash dishes and clean the dining area.
Once morning came and we could actually see where we were, the mountains (Irish mountains are rather small, but they call them mountains anyway) and lake were absolutely beautiful. The Glendalough hotel was just down the gravel road from the hostel and sheep were everywhere in little fenced pastures. Here’s what there was to see in Glendalough:
The Monastic City: A lot of gravestones and the ruins of some old stone buildings that used to be inhabited by monks in centuries past. These included what looked like a church and a tall, straight tower that was apparently used to save the monks’ treasures and writings from invaders.
Avoca: Adorable Avoca is home to the oldest working weaving mill in Ireland. Scarves, blankets and crafts from the mill go all over Ireland (we saw an Avoca store in Dublin) but their area of origin is pretty modest. The town was tiny and quiet with a church, a couple of restaurants/pubs, and of course the gift shop where you could purchase discounted scarves for €10, herbal “hangover comforts” and cat-shaped hot water bottles. Guess which of those I bought?
Sheep: Well…they’re sheep.