March 27, 2007
The remains of the 11th century Reefert Church are situated in a wooded area of the south-eastern shore of the upper lake near to the Information Center. The nave and chancel with projecting stones at the corners supported the rafters still remain.
Reefert derives its name from the Irish ‘Righ Fearta’ meaning burial place of the kings or royal graveyard. Pilgrims who made the long and arduous journey to Rome, brought back earth from the tombs of the martyrs and use it to bless the ground of the church. Seven pilgrimages to Glendalough equals one to Rome, and so it becomes a more local alternative for those unable to make the longer trip. It dates from the eleventh century and is said to have been built on the site of an earlier church. The church and graveyard were originally surrounded by a stone enclosure known in Gaelic as a caiseal or cashel. Most of the existing walls are more recent. The upper parts of the church walls were re-built over 100 years ago using the original stones. The original monastic settlement of St. Kevin may have been located near here and St. Kevin is said to have been buried here.
The church lies along the easier part of the walk as you near the upper lake area. It is quiet and nestled back among the trees. There are a few gravestones, but all are very worn and unreadable. Of interest is a stone wall along the North side with very worn protruding stone steps. You can see water pooled in them after a rain shower and can imagine the scores of bare feet and perhaps not so bare that wore the depressions into the stone. They are still quite functional and we used them to climb over the wall on our way to St. Kevin’s cell.
From journal Co. Wicklow