We started off early from Galway (which I posted about previously) to visit Clonmacnoise at opening time; staying in a hotel meant that we could check out when we wanted in order to do this. The idea was to stop somewhere along the way to get breakfast, but we did struggle to locate anywhere and had to opt for a roadside services in one of the villages we traveled through and get a pastry. From here, we traveled to the monastery ruins and were the first to arrive; we had to wait for the doors to open. The site at Clonmacnoise contains the ruins of a cathedral, several churches, two round towers, a few high crosses, and a museum with other engravings and inscriptions from graves.
Clonmacnoise is an important early Christianity site. It was founded in 544 by Saint Ciarán and became an extremely important site for religion and everything that went along with it, including education and the arts. Before its Christian roots, it was considered an important place by the Irish and the kings of Tara (Irish kings) are meant to be buried in the area. Today, Clonmacnoise remains as an important pilgrimage site and contains the historical monastery ruins.
When we arrived, we saw some ruins outside of the monastery site on the approach to the car parking and opposite the parking spaces. This ruin (pictured above) is all that remains of Clonmacnoise Castle. After our walk around outside, we came back to the museum for another look and watched the video in English in order to understand the site. We wanted to get out and see everything before the large tour group prevented us from doing so.
When we entered, we had a quick walk through the museum and then returned to look once again at the items. The high crosses and some original engravings are stored here, and some replicas have been made to be re-sited on the original locations.
The moss-covered crosses looked pretty, and we had perfect sunny weather for our visit.
We walked around the various ruins of the cathedral and churches. This was once a bustling place.
One of the high crosses sits on the banks of the River Shannon. Those views were perfect.
The doorway to the cathedral is known as "Whispering Arch". We tried to whisper in the doorway to see if the sound would carry inside, but this did not work. Perhaps it was only the "Whispering Arch" when there's a roof on it. The legend mentions that it was used as a confessional.
The round tower in the photogaph below is O'Rourke's Tower, and it was struck by lightning in the middle ages and lost the top of the tower. The high cross replica (Cross of the Scriptures) seen in the museum is in the foreground. It is one of the famous high crosses of Ireland and contains an inscription. (Although they are worn from centuries of weathering, the original crosses have held up much better than the replicas.)
Saint Ciarán died of the plague in 544, and he was buried in the original wooden church that was at the location before the stone structures were built. A small oratory, Temple Ciarán, was built over the spot where the wooden church stood. Many others with affiliation to the monastery also died at this time, but the religious centre grew in later centuries and it became the target of Irish, Viking, and Norman raids. The 12th century saw a decline in the use of the monastery here in favour of one built at Athlone.
The round tower in the photograph above is Temple Finghín & McCarthy's Tower, and the River Shannon looks beautiful in the distance. It dates from the 12th centuries. Another photograph of the oratory where the saint was buried is below. This is a popular pilgrimage place. I'll let the photographs do the 'talking'...
Pope John Paul II visited Clonmacnoise in 1979. A new building was constructed on the site, and the area was filled with people who wanted to see him. There's a plaque at this building to commemorate this event, and there's an offerings area.
The three saints are above the doorway, known as the "whispering arch". The saints are Dominic, Patrick, and Francis.
I also discovered a carving of a face. I think this was on one of the crosses that I found in the cemetary area.
Crosses marked the graves, and I took so many photographs of these crosses with moss on them.
This is a beautiful place to visit, and it's so old and has so much history. The museum is also worth a visit to see the crosses (a must), and a replica of the wooden church. The video is also worth a watch, but the video is rotated in different languages. I would not mind other languages, as long as they all had English subtitles! Unfortunately, everywhere that we went in Ireland, they did not have English subtitles, so we would have to wait for the next English video or just miss out.