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Introducing Clones & Around

Once the site of an important 6th-century monastery that later became an Augustinian abbey, Clones' main sights are ecclesiastical. There's a well-preserved 10th-century high cross on the Diamond, decorated with drama-charged biblical stories such as Daniel in the lion's den.

Along with the remains of the abbey founded by St Tiernach on Abbey St, there's a truncated 22m-high round tower, which dates from the early 9th century, in the cemetery south of town. Nearby is the supposed burial place of Tiernach himself, a chunky 9th-century sarcophagus with worn animal-head carvings.

More recently, Clones found fame as a lace-making centre. To learn about the history of Clones lace, see it on display or purchase samples, visit the Ulster Canal Stores.

Hilton Park is a country-house retreat that has been in the same family since 1734. It's a magnificent place with stunning views of the 240-hectare estate. Its six spacious guestrooms are bathed in light and decorated with original furniture, free-standing baths and four-poster or half-tester beds. Top-class cuisine, much of it produced in the estate's organic gardens, is served in regal surroundings (dinner €55, by prior arrangement). Rates include breakfast and high tea on arrival. You can also come for literary weekends or cookery courses.

Bus Éireann runs a service from Clones to Monaghan (€5.75, 30 minutes, five buses Monday to Saturday, one Sunday), with connections on to Carrickmacross, Slane and Dublin.

Ulsterbus has one direct service per day between Clones and Belfast (€13.20, 2¼ hours, Monday to Friday).