Many years ago, to celebrate finishing my nursing studies, A friend and I cycled to wicklow. It was the first time I really thought about how far one could get on a bicycle. We had no plan and no map, just followed the local signposts.
Now wicklow is a very mountainous county and our bikes being single speed often meant getting off and pushing them over hilly terrain but every morning we rose from our youth hostel beds with renewed determination not to be deterred by any road just because of a steep incline.
One morning, our curiosity aroused by the name on the signpost, we made our way along the steep road to the devils glen. Recently I returned there for a walk.
It started out innocently enough.
Purely to clear the cobwebs of the last week.
A woodland walk of
trees, bushes, ferns, a leafy path, a wandering river, some dappled sunlight, a wooden bridge,
the usual sort of foresty stuff.
did I say wooden bridge!
I step warily across
waiting to be accosted
by the voice of childhood past
‘Who dares to go trip tropping across MY bridge’
Says the angry troll, goblin, leprechaun
(take your pick)
‘it is just I’
My voice trembles or maybe it’s the bridge as
I trip across safely.
and ahead is there a story?
about a girl who dared pass under a fallen rock
I hold my breath and try to remember
but make it safely under all the same
and travelling onward without looking back
(I don’t fancy being turned into a pillar of salt).
along Yeats-like stolen paths
to the waterfall
not quite as astounding as glencar
but just as mesmerizing.
I sit and watch it thunder
until the day grows dark
then back through the rock
and over the bridge I run
I don’t remember passing
the alice in wonderland tree
or the sleeping beauty castle.
The devils glen is named so by the victorians because they likened the noise of the waterfall to the roar of the devil. The Irish name for it is An Gleann Mór. p.s the last two photos are from the glen o’ the downs walk I braved later.