The ancient monastic site of Clonmacnoise is situated at the crossroads of Ireland in County Offaly and dates back almost 1,500 years. St. Ciaran, the son of an Ulsterman who had settled in Connaught, chose the site in 545 AD because of its ideal location at the junction of river and road travel in Celtic Ireland. The location borders the three provinces of Connaught, Munster and Leinster.
The monastery is on the east side of the River Shannon, in what was then the Kingdom of Meath, but occupying a position so central it was the burial-place of many of the kings of Connaught as well as those of Tara.
Saint Ciaran was educated by St. Diarmuid of Clonard and St. Finian - tutor of the ancient Saints of Ireland. His last place of formal learning before establishing his own monastery in Clonmacnoise was with St. Enda on the island of Inís Mór off the coast of Galway. Here, under the tutelage of the strict disciplinarian Enda, he learned Sacred Studies, Prayer and labour.
Models in the Heritage Centre, Clonmacnoise
The Whispering Arch
(For centuries courting couples have stood each side of the arch whispering their words of love to each other)
Shortly after his arrival, Ciaran met Prince Diarmuid who helped him to build the first church - a small wooden structure and the first of many small churches to be clustered on the site. Diarmuid was to be crowned the first Christian High King of Ireland.
Ciaran did not live to see his monastery grow and flourish.....he died of yellow plague just 4 years after settling and was only 33 years old.
The monastery attracted many of the scholars of Ireland and from across Europe and it was to become the most illustrious school in Europe....... the precursor to universities perhaps?
It was a Scriptorium from the 8th.-10th. centuries and many scribes toiled long and arduous hours learning the skills which were to become world renowned in works such as the Books of Kells and Durrow. Metal workers in gold, silver and bronze produced some of the world's finest celtic craftwork, not surpassed since the 11th. century.
No single large church exists, or ever existed, at Clonmacnoise. Rather, there were a number of small churches of simple plan and wooden construction.
There is no evidence left of the monks' living quarters. It is presumed the whole complex was enclosed by a rampart of earth or stone. Standing on the site now is a cluster of ruined churches within the graveyard that were built from the 12th century onwards.
The monastic settlement has seen many violent and destructive periods in its history and was destroyed by fire at least 13 times. It was attacked approximately 40 times from the 8th. to the 12th. century.....8 times by the Vikings; 6 times by the Anglo Normans and 26 times by the Irish. Each time the Monks rebuilt.
In 1552 it was finally reduced to ruin by the English garrison in Athlone and from that time onwards there were no monasteries in Ireland for almost 300 hundred years. Clonmacnoise lay in decay until the Office of Public Works began the arduous task of turning this place into one of Ireland's most famous visitors' centres.
Remains of The Cathedral with early
10th. Century stone incorporated in the building.
The North and South Crosses are made from quartzose sandstone found at the foot of the Bernagh mountains near Lough Derg. The stone used in this craftwork was transported by boat up the lough and the river Shannon to the site.
Both crosses and some of the other invaluable stonework are now housed in a beautifully constructed heritage centre designed to resemble crannogs. Crannogs were the living quarters in ancient celtic settlements and were circular in construction.
The South Cross The North Cross
The preservation work is currently being carried on by Duchas - the National Heritage Service and Clonmacnoise would rank as one of Ireland's most spectacular and valuable heritage sites.
Clonmacnoise is located about 12 miles from both Athlone town and Ballinasloe in County Galway. The nearest village is Shannonbridge but it is not an easy place to get to, especially for those who do not drive or only have access to public transport.
Occassionally I get enquiries from people asking how to reach the Clonmacnoise Monastic Settlement. As a result I have found someone who provides daily mini-bus tours from Athlone to Clonmacnoise. For anyone interested in visiting but who has no transport you can contact:
Paddy Kavanagh in Athlone - just send him your query by email and he'll help you out.
Anyone looking for nice, central accommodation if visiting this area I'd recommend Riverdale House in Athlone.
And so, this part of our journey concludes, links to the rest of the journey are just below our newsletter subscription.
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the Rest of the Journey
For those who have just joined me on this page why not go to the beginning of our travels and see some of the places in The Start of Our Journey through the West of Ireland.
My Place Amongst the Stones gives the history of my company name, Moytura - a celtic heritage going back thousands of years.
We journey to my own parish of Lackagh - a small village just 12 miles from Galway with a mighty big history. Learn all about the Battle of Knockdoe - one of Ireland's bloodiest of conflicts in the 16th century.
We then move on to take a quick jaunt around Galway City; and to the heart of Connemara - with its wild and wonderful beauty.
From there we journey south into County Clare and see The Burren - a place that has lain undisturbed since the Ice-age and of immense botanical, ecological and archaeological importance.
Visit my favourite of all the early Christian Church locations - Clonfert, South County Galway, with its beautiful tiny 12th century Cathedral of Saint Brendan. Come with me around the grounds and see the Bishop's Palace and the 1000 year old Yew Walk.
While on the Clonfert pages, you can learn a potted history of Saint Brendan the Navigator, possibly the first European to set foot in North America in the 6th. century. And join me in the celebrations when this tiny cathedral was listed in the World Monuments Watch 2000 most endangered monuments.
Come with me on my 'Famine Journey' which starts in Westport, and moves to Sligo, my Dad's County and the departure port for many of the 'Coffin Ships'. This part of my journey ends in Grosse-Île on a tiny island east of Quebec City.
On this page you will learn some of the history of our Famine Refugees and find the final resting place of over 6,000 of my country folk who died within sight of their first freedom in over 300 years. This is where many of the Irish roots in North America started.
Our Journey moves on to other places on that visit to Canada where we see Quebec City and some of Ontario's lovely places and then to two of Canada's famous Catholic Shrines - Saint Anne de Beaupré and to Cap-de-la-Madeleine.
Finally, join me on my pilgrimage to a peaceful haven in a war-torn country in Medugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovinia. The other areas of my Web site can be found in the drop-down box below.
If you are interested in Irish history or anything to do with Ireland why not visit our new additions:
Moytura's Irish Bookshop, Moytura's Irish Music Store, and Moytura's Irish Video Store
where you will find a large selection of Irish material!
I have added links pages of other places related to the places we visit, links to leisure activities in Ireland i.e. golf, fishing, horse riding, sailing in Ireland, festivals, entertainment etc. and some of my friends' home pages.
Oh, I nearly forgot......come
and meet me and mine HERE
See some of the awards received for this site HERE.
For those of you who are interested in tracing you family ancestry these pages might help, just hit the banners to go directly to each site or check out our Trace Your Ancestry pages first where you can see some of the vast numbers of data base lists and try out an on-line search for yourself.
Every now and then people send me stories, poems, or URLs to other Home Pages that I find very touching or uplifting, they can be found at the links below. Some will make you smile, maybe even laugh, some may make you cry or a little sad - but all will leave a little bit of a mark, if only for the few minutes you spend reading or listening to them. Enjoy - I call this section:
CIRCLE THE WORLD WITH PRAYER
Could you DONATE just 10 minutes of your time a day?? If Yes then- GIVE IT TO GOD! Great rewards and long-term benefits! Invitation open to ANYONE, ANYWHERE, ANY RELIGION & NONE!!
Check out the WHY, WHERE, WHEN & HOW here: Circle of Prayer Then ask yourself the question - WHY NOT?!?!
Celtic Women International
Celtic Women International is a young and vibrant organisation founded by Jean Bills, a woman with Irish roots living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is now in growth phase and expanding membership throughout the whole world for ANYONE (yes, even the guys!) with Celtic roots. It's purpose is to honour, celebrate and promote our Celtic Heritage. In the near future we hope to be a resource for all things Celtic with databases of other Celtic Organisations, Support Bodies, Music & the Arts etc. Membership, for only $25!!, incorporates a quarterly newsletter with the finest of articles related all things Celtic.
Our annual conference brings together some of the best advocates of Celtic Traditions as well as musicians and artists representing the recognised Celtic Nations of Ireland, Cornwall, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man, Brittany and Galicia and Asturia in Spain. 2002 sees the conference on the move and will be held in New Orleans, 2003 in Toronto, 2004 in Pheonix and 2005 in GALWAY, IRELAND! Please help us to grow this wonderful organisation by joining us as a member. All are very welcome and your presence can only enrich us. Learn all about us at:
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WEB DESIGN & HOSTING
Moytura Graphic Design offers the complete Internet solution for your company or business. We design, host and market your site, regardless of how small or large it needs to be.
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IT'S JUST THE IRISH IN YOU!
If you are Irish or have an affinity with Ireland, Moytura also has an Irish Book Shop, Irish Video Store and Irish Music Store, stocked with all things Irish or Irish-related. Just hit the buttons below:
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Just hit the banner to the left.
Are You Drawing Up Your Family Tree?
Moytura now has a brand new Irish shopping site online, so why not go and have a mooch by hitting the logo!
Here you will find a vast selection of Irish products in the following categories: Ancestry, Art, Books, Collectors items, Crafts, Crystal, Dancing, Fashion, Foodhall, Fragrances, Gifts, Heraldry, Houseware, Jewellery, Maps, Music, Names, Sportswear, Travel and Videos. All our goods are from genuine Irish suppliers.
Moytura Graphic Design has expanded enormously since it's humble beginnings just a few years ago and has taken a new business venture which can be operated from home on a full or part-time basis. You can learn about this work-from-home opportunity here.
The telecommunications industry goes from strength to strength world wide, especially with de-regulation opening up most countries to healthy and cost-cutting competition. The company, for which we are Independent Consultants, has been so successful since its European start-up in 1998 that it has now expanded from the UK to Ireland Belgium, and the Netherlands, with the USA opening in Feb 2002. It plans to expand even further in the very near future - to:
If you, or anyone you know, living in any of these countries would like to start a home-based business, the opportunities are enormous as this company is only just beginning and, as Independent Consultants, everyone will be in at the very ground level. E-MAIL for details or check out the WEBPAGE.
Contact Mary Mullins, Moytura Graphic Design, Cregmore, Claregalway, Co. Galway, Ireland. Ph: +353 91 798407
© 2000 Moytura Graphic Design