June 3rd is the feast day of St. Kevin, who founded the monastery in the beautiful valley of Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, in the 6th century. It grew to be a thriving ecclesiastical city and was also a major centre of learning up to the 12th century. It was one of Ireland’s four main centres of pilgrimage. Around 1100, the city hosted a major gathering of Welsh and Irish harpists and St. Kevin’s Harp was still revered in Ireland when Gerald of Wales visited the country in the 1180s. Although the city lay in ruins, The Festival of St. Kevin of the Seven Churches was still attracting large crowds every June 3rd in the 19th century. The drinking, gambling and fighting that took place at these ‘patterns’ was ended by the Catholic bishops in 1862. Today, the spectacular mountain walk along the medieval pilgrim route called St. Kevin’s Way still runs for 30km through the Wicklow Gap and has been compared to the Camino De Santiago in northern Spain.

Related Posts