Clonmacnoise, Ireland

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would talk about one of the most beautiful and tranquil areas of Ireland. The monastic site of Clonmacnoise is nestled next to a wide stretch of the River Shannon. Founded in 544, Clonmacnoise is in County Offaly.

Celtic Cross at Clonmacnoise

Celtic Cross at Clonmacnoise

I came to Clonmacnoise on an organized bus tour by CIE Tours in September 2006. The weather was overcast and rainy which added to the magical feel of this place. We were given a short guided tour with a local guide and then everyone went to the onsite cafe for a hot coffee. I, however, stayed outside, having the entire site to myself.

Monastic site of Clonmacnoise

Monastic site of Clonmacnoise

The ground was soft from the rains and the air smelled fresh but what struck me the most is how quiet it was here. The only sound was the River Shannon as it flowed past this ancient site. It was just me standing there, listening to the river, surrounded by the tombs of the ancient Irish Kings of Tara. Some of the tombs were so old that they were half sunk into the grounds, all traces of who they were worn off with time.

Ancient tombs of Clonmacnoise

Ancient tombs of Clonmacnoise

Having this place to myself made me want to cry. The history and beauty were overwhelming and I had them all to myself. I will never forget that feeling. Ireland is in my blood and I felt connected to this place, like I was part of it at that moment.

I continued wandering around while a light mist fell, amplifying the lush shades of green.

Worn tombstones at Clonmacnoise

Worn tombstones at Clonmacnoise

Nowhere have I felt more peaceful than wandering among these tombstones, which is ironic because Clonmacnoise saw its fair share of bloodshed as it was raided many times by Vikings sailing on the Shannon. Monastic sites often held treasures and were raided by Vikings regularly. This is why the doors on the round towers were well above ground. The monks could pull up the ladders, making it difficult for the raiders (Irish, Viking and Normans) to steal the treasures.

Round tower at Clonmacnoise

Round tower at Clonmacnoise

My explorations took me into the ruins of a small church,

Ruins at Clonmacnoise

Ruins at Clonmacnoise

and among the Celtic crosses.

Celtic crosses

Celtic crosses

While aimlessly wandering, I stumbled upon this staircase. You can almost imagine these stairs leading to another time.

Staircase at Clonmacnoise

Staircase at Clonmacnoise

I had about two hours to wander this wonderful place, tucked next to the famous Shannon river, by myself. Thanks to the Irish mist, which kept everyone away, I had a once in a lifetime experience. Having an ancient site all to myself, no cell phones ringing, no talking, nothing to distract me from the beauty that is Clonmacnoise.

Clonmacnoise

Clonmacnoise

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