Visit the Clonmacnoise Monastic Site in Ireland
Founded in 544 and on the journey from Dublin to Galway is the monastery of Clonmacnoise. Walking amongst the peaceful stone ruins conjures up visions of the master craftsmen, stonemasons, and monks who skillfully worked with precious metals and hand-carved stone crosses here.
Saint Ciarán chose this location in the ancient territory of Ui Maine, at a point where the major East-West land route meets the River Shannon, after crossing the bogs of Central Ireland. This strategic location helped it become a major center of religion, learning, craftsmanship, and trade by the 9th century. It was one of the most famous monasteries in Ireland, visited by scholars from all over Europe. It’s also a burial site for the high kings of its time.
During its greatest period of growth between the 8th and 12th centuries it was attacked frequently, mostly by the Irish, but also by the Vikings and the Normans. In 1552 the English garrison at Athlone destroyed and looted Clonmacnoise for the final time, leaving it in ruins.
The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses, and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. There’s an Interpretive Centre open to the public and visitors are welcome to roam the grounds.
A Famous Irish Blessing: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the palm of his hand.