Cruise the Shannon to visit this peaceful monastic settlement with its iconic high crosses and ancient Christian churches
What’s it all about?
Ireland has often been described as a land of saints and scholars and the early Christian site at Clonmacnoise is perhaps the finest example of this heritage on the island. Founded by St Ciarán in the sixth century, the site on the banks of the broad River Shannon in County Offaly grew to what can only be described as an ancient monastic city. This enchanting site includes the ruins of a cathedral, an amazing seven churches dating from the 10th to the 13th century, two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe.
A welcome for visitors
The site is so peaceful, it’s easy to lose yourself in the beautiful surroundings – it’s no wonder most visitors spend a few hours just soaking it all in. The original high crosses and a selection of graveslabs are on display in the Visitor Centre and a 20-minute audiovisual presentation outlines the history of the site. The site is open all-year round, but opening hours vary depending on the time of year. Closed Christmas Day.
In the area
Clonmacnoise is perfectly located on the banks of the River Shannon so it makes an idyllic place to hop on board for a cruise. You’ll find plenty of operators servicing the local area, either offering self-cruises or guided trips. You could pop into nearby Clonmacnoise Pottery, where you’ll find inspiring works from Damian O’Brien; and if you time things right, you could also join in the fun at the buzzing Shannonbridge and Clonmacnoise Midsummer Music Festival, which is held annually in June!
Open all year, the Clonmacnoise Visitor Centre is where you can purchase entry tickets for a guided tour around the site itself, and also access into the audiovisual presentation. Located just 20km from Ballinasloe, the site is served only by private bus operators from Athlone. The Visitor Centre is fully accessible for visitors with disabilities, however, access to the actual site is limited for visitors with disabilities. For more information about Clonmacnoise, visit Heritage Ireland.