Dear diary, I have a confession to make: I like to visit cemeteries when I travel. I am particularly inclinded towards cemeteries with Celtic crosses. It’s also one of the only places where I don’t mind if it rains or if it’s sunny, so it’s a perfect place for me to go in Ireland & Scotland. The cemetery I visited this time in Ireland was in Clonmacnoise.
This post covers the very brief road trip my friends and I made from Galway to Dublin to catch our flight home in the evening. The trip to Ireland had been slightly hit-and-miss. However, this day tipped the balance of the trip towards positive memories.
The first logical stop on the road from Galway to Dublin was Athenry. A town famous from the song. Wait, you don’t know the song?? Ha, neither did I but my friends told me about it and I listened to it afterwards:
“Low lie the Fields Of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly
Our love was on the wing
We had dreams and songs to sing,
Its so lonely round the Fields of Athenry”
The song actually has no links to Athenry castle and the ruins of the church we visited. It also adds no value whatsoever to my post, but it’s what made the town famous so I felt I couldn’t leave it out.
This wasn’t a very lengthy stop, we just got out of the car to take some photos of the church. It was more than enough for me, especially since I couldn’t wait to reach the main destination of the day.
Clonmacnoise is located in County Offaly on the River Shannon, south of the town Athlone.
The monastery was founded in 544 by St. Ciarán.
The strategic location of the monastery helped it become a major centre of religion, learning & trade . It was one of the most famous monasteries in Ireland and it was visited by scholars from all over Europe.
Nowadays, the site is a preserved ruin.
An interpretive center and facilities for visitors have been built around the site, which is open to the public for quite a hefty fee. The graveyard surrounding the site is still in use.
The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of Early Christian graveslabs.
We walked around for a bit and after a little while the sun even came out to play. Even though for once I didn’t feel like I needed it; it was still a welcome benefit to my photos.
Clonmacnoise is not on the radar of many tourists who visit Ireland. It wasn’t even on mine until my friend selected it as a stop for the road trip. There’s a lot to see though: inside the tourist centre you can find an interesting story about the site’s history & on the outside you can take photos of numerous crosses. What more is there to want?