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Visiting Clonmacnoise

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.

Introduction To Clonmacnoise

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.

Cross of the Scriptures and Cathedral

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.

Windows at the cathedral

Our Opinion

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).

The high cross 'Cross of the Scriptures'

The Tour

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.)

How To Get There

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 Round Tower and Temple Finghin

McCarthy's Tower and Temple Finghin.

Our Special Tips

Tip No 1:

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.

Tip No 2:

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!

Tip No 3:

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!

One of the many early Christian graver marker stones that were found here.

Early Christian grave marker stone found here.

More About Early Christian Ireland

More About Ireland

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Warmest regards, Colm & Susanna

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