The monastery of Clonmacnoise is lighting golden in the evening sun.


Top choice in The Midlands

Gloriously placed overlooking the River Shannon, 7km northeast of Shannonbridge, Clonmacnoise is one of Ireland’s most important ancient monastic cities. The site is enclosed within a walled field and contains numerous early churches, high crosses, round towers and graves in astonishingly good condition (although several gravestones incline to the ground at under a 45-degree angle). The Clonmacnoise Visitor Centre provides an introduction to the site as well as containing several highly important and original stone crosses, along with explanations of their iconography.

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1. Temple Ciaran

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The small churches at Clonmacnoise are called temples, a derivation of the Irish word teampall (church). Tiny Temple Ciaran is reputed to be the burial…

2. Temple Kelly

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Only scant foundations remain of Temple Kelly, which dates from 1167.

3. Temple Connor

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Temple Connor originally dates from the 11th century but has many later features, including a quite modern roof; services are still held here. As it has…

4. Oratory

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Church services are often held at this open-air area.

5. Temple Finghin & Tower

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Temple Finghin and its round tower are on the northern boundary of the Clonmacnoise monastic site, overlooking the River Shannon. The building dates from…

7. Cathedral

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The largest building at Clonmacnoise, the cathedral was originally built in AD 909, but was significantly altered and remodelled over the centuries. Its…

8. Temple Melaghlin

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This 12th-century historic site has Romanesque Gothic transitional windows that are unique to Ireland. It's also known as the Kings' Church, as seven…