Clonmacnoise is undoubtedly one of Ireland's best tourist attractions. Read on to find out why, and find tourist information about the site on this page also.
This Irish monastery was founded in 550 AD by St Ciaran.
By the 8th century it had become early Christian Ireland’s most important monastic centre and continued to be for another 1200 years after that.
The world-famous Cross of the Scriptures and the Cathedral.
The monastery became an early Christian centre of learning attracting international scholars, it had an important scriptorium where famous annals and books were written and illuminated, and it had a large settlement area attached to it, equivalent to a town, with resident traders and crafts people, such as metal workers and stone masons. This monastery also featured early medieval Ireland’s first significant bridge, across the river Shannon.
This monastery is worth a visit any time of year. It is a place to remember Ireland by if you are here on holidays, and a MUST SEE for anyone Irish. This early medieval monastery boasts two attractive round towers which are a piece of architecture unique to Ireland, as well as three of the best Irish High Crosses (indoors for protection).
There is an architecturally attractive visitors’ centre with a well presented audio visual show, friendly and helpful staff and an interesting indoor exhibition. The centre is open all year round with shorter opening hours in the winter months until 5 p.m. and longer opening hours in the summer until 7 p.m. In the summer months there is a cafe. From March until November there even is a small tourist office, located in the car park.
Tickets are 5 Euros for adults, (5 Euros well spent.)
You can get there easily from the new M6 Dublin to Galway motorway (junction 14). It is a 15 minutes drive from there. Head for the R357 towards Shannonbridge first, once in Shannonbridge turn onto the R444 which will at this point be signposted.
McCarthy's Tower and Temple Finghin.
Plan about two hours for the visit plus travel time from and back to the motorway, and break your Dublin- Galway journey here some day. Do it in the summer time when the cafe is open and stay for lunch or coffee as well. Bring the family. I promise you won’t regret the time spent.
Between April and September there are Viking Boat Tours in a replica longship with costumes for the kids on the river Shannon from Athlone (4.5 h return journey currently for 17 Euros) which include time for a visit at the monastery. We think this is by far the coolest way to visit the site!
If you are staying in Athlone and the weather is fine, rent a bike and cycle there in the absence of a bus service. This will be reminiscent of the olden days!
Early Christian grave marker stone found here.
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Copyright 2014 by Colm Sweeney and Susanna Lambeck www.enjoy-irish-culture.com