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This ancient monastic site is situated on the east side of the river Shannon. It's near Athlone. It dates back to the 6th century AD. At the time it was also the burial place of ancient kings. It has been raided many times and in the 16th century reduced to ruin. Nowadays it's one of the most famous visitor's centres. It has some of the most beautiful surviving High Crosses of Ireland.
I saw a programme on Clonmacnoise and knew that it had to be included in our trip. I was not dissappointed even though it was one of our few rainy days in Ireland. This early Christian site was founded by Saint Ciaran in the mid 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon. The site included the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Ireland. The original high crosses are on display in the visitor centre on site.
The site is 21km from Athlone signposted from the N62 or 20km from Ballisnaloe signposted from the R357
It was a fantastic experience for me to visit this site. It is an early Christian site founded by Saint Ciaran on the banks of the river Shannon. We watched a short move about the site before entering it and it was well worth seeing it, gives you a good idea of what to expect and what the background to the site was. On the site you can visit the ruins of the cathedral, seven churches, round towers and three high crosses. It also houses the largest selection of graveslabs for Early Christiandom.
Ruins & gravestones
The ancient monastic site of Clonmacnoise is situated at the crossroads of Ireland in County Offaly and dates back almost 1,500 years.
St. Ciaran, the son of an Ulsterman who had settled in Connaught, chose the site in 545 AD because of its ideal location at the junction of river and road travel in Celtic Ireland. The location borders the three provinces of Connaught, Munster and Leinster.
The monastery is on the east side of the River Shannon, in what was then the Kingdom of Meath, but occupying a position so central it was the burial-place of many of the kings of Connaught as well as those of Tara.
Saint Ciaran was educated by St. Diarmuid of Clonard and St. Finian - tutor of the ancient Saints of Ireland. After this he established his own monastery in Clonmacnois with St. Enda on the island of Inís Mór off the coast of Galway. Here, under the tutelage of the strict disciplinarian Enda, he learned Sacred Studies, Prayer and labour.
Just a cool place to go to see some really old ruins
Clonmacnoise is the preserved ruin of a monastic settlement dating back 1500 years. It was built at the crossroads of major river and road travel. It was a center of trade, learning and burial place of many kings. It was subject to many attacks from Vikings, Normans, and Irish. Today it is a site of great historical importance, with the remains of a variety of structures that were built at different times of the site's existence.
There is an imformative museum on the premisses, as well as precariously crumling norman castle nearby. It's location along the river Shannon is lovely.
It is certainly worth going out of your way in order to learn so much about critical Irish history in this beautiful setting.
Mass is still given here on special occassions.
- Historical Travel
The West Offaly Railway Bog Tour
The West Offaly Railway Bog Tour is a funny way to explore the largest production-fields of peat, a wast area close to Clonmacnoice and a visitor-train will take you out in the bog and will have several stops, where you can get out and see some remains of historic places, where the peat was won in former centuries and of course you will also see the modern machineries of nowadays.
That train is operated in April, May and September:
Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm (tours run on the hour)
May, June, July and August :
7 days a week 10am to 5pm tours run on the hour
- Study Abroad
- Family Travel
an early christian monastery
Clonmacnoise is one of the most interesting historic sites of Ireland : an early christian monastery, founded by Saint Ciaran in the middle of the 6th century directely at the banks of the river Shannon. You will see there still some part of the walls around the monastery, 2 round towers and 3 celtic high crosses, beautifully decorated, a lot of tombs. There is a visitor-centre that shows an audiovisual show about this place including also the flora, fauna and landscape of the region.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
In the heart of Ireland, right in between the two cities Dublin and Galway, you will find one of the most important historical sights in Irish history: the monastery of Clonmacnoise. This area is not only a beautiful collection of buildings, situated wonderfully at the banks of the Shannon-river, it also has a long story hidden in it.
The monastery was founded in 548 A.D and it was one of the most important ones in the whole of Europe for almost a millenium. In 1534 the catholic religion was forbidden by the English King Henry III and Clonmacnoise was abandoned. Today it is a very popular again and thousands of religious people visit the monastery again every year.
In Clonmacnoise you can see several old churches, towers and lots of so called high-crosses, that are scattered around the green lawn at the banks of the river. It is a fantastic place to see and you can actually feel the history in the air there.
More info about Clonmacnoise? Check out my Clonmacnoise-page!
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
- Road Trip
O'Rourke'sTower at Clonmacnoise, named after the high king of Connaught, Fergal O'Rourke. Its believed the top of the tower was blown apart by lightening. Many monasteries in Ireland built these towers, as lookout points, in the times of the Viking invasions. The monks had gained wealth during quieter spells in the country's history and therefore wanted to protect that from the raiding Vikings.
This monastery was my favourite sight in what we saw in Ireland! It is a huge area with the ruins of a couple of churches, a round tower and many many high crosses and crosses. They have a little museum there, a video show and of course the actual outside sightseeing. How fascinating!! We sat there for almost 2 hours and just let this atmosphere sink in! Awesome!
Clonmacnoise Part 2
As in all irish places, full of history and religion, at Clonmacnoise there is also a Round Tower. But there are sooooo many things here, that you may overlook the two round towers there.
The high crosses at the campground are copies. The originals are in the building through which you may gothrough to see Clonmacnoise. And at this building (seems like a visitor center) you are invited to watch a movie about the history of this place.
I highly recommend to carefully see it! it is very interesting and make you aware of the importance of what you are going to see.
Clonmacnoise or the beginning of catholicism in Ir
This point was the most important crossroad of Ireland for many centuries: The Shannon was the Main "road" from south to north and here layed the route east-west. So in the middle of the 6th century, St Ciaran founded here a cloister, that in the next centuries turned to be the most important center of religion and culture. During the middle age, many monks from all around Europe came to Clonmacnoise to study and learn about art and literature.
Many kings were here buried.
Ancient monastic site
In the classic Irish countryside on the Shannon river there is the monastic site of Clonmacnoise founded in 548-549.
There are a lot of ruins of churches, buildings and many funeral piece of art as tombstones and giant crosses.
In the museum are a lot of informations about the monastic life in the site. A multilanguage 20 minutes movie shows you the monastic history of Clonmacnoise and its founder and of the whole Ireland.
A multinational of it's day...
Clonmacnoise (County Offaly) has become an immensly popular place to visit in the last few years. The ruins of the Monastic settlement are important for historical reasons, although the fact that it is roughly half-way between Dublin and Galway on the main road makes it very appealing to coach tours.
The Christian site founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon. This also adds to the charm of the place as it is a very picturesque setting. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches (10th-13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. The original high crosses and grave slabs are on display in the Visitor Centre. The display is wll presented and includes a good quality audio-visual production.
My five year old nephew-in-law after visting it announced that "Clon McDonalds" was very old. I suppose that in a way the monastic were the powerful multi-nationals of their day.
Many visitors (especially children) like to explore a particular entrance door with grooves around the arch. You can stand a few feet away from someone else and talk in a whisper - and the other person will hear it as clear as a bell.
Five Euro to get in.
The gothic style entrance to the cathedral is known as the Whispering Door as a whisper carries from one side of it to the other. Its believed that this enabled lepers to give confession without the priests having to get too close to them. The carvings on the doorway are of St Francis, St Patrick and St Dominic.
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