Vestige of the past, the monastery of Clonmacnoise is a site to visit if you like to immerse yourself in Irish history. Clonmanoise will take you back in time to the time of monasteries and religious hamlets where priests and disciples lived together in a true cultural centre where the qualities of knowledge and faith were preached . It was in fact one of the greatest university and religious centres of the time!
The origins of Clonmacnoise date back to 545, when the priest Saint Ciarán decided to build a wooden church on the top of an esker, in order to be able to contemplate the unrivalled panorama overlooking the Shannon and the rest of the county of Offaly. With the help of a man known as Diarmait mac Cerbaill, they began the construction of the church and completed it a few months before Saint Ciarán died of the yellow plague.
Over the centuries, the buildings around the church have multiplied to form a veritable hamlet, where priests and disciples devoted their time to learning Christian texts, as well as mastering Irish grammar and the knowledge of the time.
The fame of Clonmacnoise was such that the place became one of the largest university and religious centres of the time. Its influence extended from the 6th to the 12th century!
Because of its fame, many kings of the province of Connaught and the House of Tara chose to be buried in Clonmacnoise. You will therefore have the opportunity to walk around the welcoming tombs of great figures of Irish History!
The monastery of Clonmacnoise (Cluain Mhic Nóis in Irish Gaelic) is situated in County Offaly, on the bank of the river Shannon, not far from the town of Athlone. Easily accessible, you will face magnificent ruins including a collapsed cathedral, 8 churches and 2 round towers. Here is an overview of the different constructions you can visit:
Built by the abbot Colmán, the construction of the cathedral lasted 5 centuries (from the 10th to the 15th century). The cathedral still has some sections of walls still standing. Don’t miss the main door, which has a magnificent arcade.
Don’t hesitate to whisper: visitors all agree that the cathedral’s acoustics allow you to be perfectly heard!