The Wicklow Mountains form the largest upland area in Ireland. They occupy the centre of County Wicklow, and extend over its border into the counties of Carlow, Wexford, and Dublin. The highest mountain is just over 3,000 feet, and several river systems have their source here. The upland areas consist mainly of blanket bog and heathland.
The mountains have been inhabited since Neolithic times, and several passage tombs can still be found in the area. After the English invasion in the 12th century, the mountains became a stronghold and hiding place for Irish clans who were opposed to English rule. They also harboured rebels during the 1798 Rising. At the start of the 19th century, the ‘Wicklow Military Road’ was constructed (and still used today as the R115 road). It runs for about 36 miles from north to south across the spine of the Wicklow Mountains, and was intended to make it easier for the British Army to seek out rebels and keep control of the area.
Four barracks were built along the road, including this one at Glencree, which housed 100 soldiers, from 1806 until the 1850s. The buildings later became a reform school for 300 boys, and the, during the 2nd World War, they became a temporary Refuge Centre for German and Polish war orphans, who were looked after by the Irish Red Cross.
|The Glenmacness valley from the top of the waterfall|