Glendalough was a lovely place tucked in the middle of a valley, all lush forests and ruins. Although personally, after visiting Kylemore Abbey in Connemara (probably will write about it in another post), I like Connemara more. But Glendalough was beautiful in its own right, very nice for hiking.
St Kevin, an Irish saint, is the founder of Glendalough. He was known for being a hermit, rejecting all earthly pursuits like wealth and power, and there are plenty of legends, stories and literature about him.
St Kevin and the Blackbird
And then there was St Kevin and the blackbird.
The saint is kneeling, arms stretched out, inside
His cell, but the cell is narrow, so
One turned-up palm is out the window, stiff
As a crossbeam, when a blackbird lands
And lays in it and settles down to nest.
Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked
Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked
Into the network of eternal life,
Is moved to pity: now he must hold his hand
Like a branch out in the sun and rain for weeks
Until the young are hatched and fledged and flown.
And since the whole thing’s imagined anyhow,
Imagine being Kevin. Which is he?
Self-forgetful or in agony all the time
From the neck on out down through his hurting forearms?
Are his fingers sleeping? Does he still feel his knees?
Or has the shut-eyed blank of underearth
Crept up through him? Is there distance in his head?
Alone and mirrored clear in love’s deep river,
‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays,
A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name.
Our incredibly funny tour guide.
Lough Tay, aka Guinness Lake. So named because the lake’s dark colour and white beach resemble the famous Irish beer. 🙂