Clonfert, Co Galway
The road east from Galway leads to the ecclesiastical heartland of Ireland and two monastic sites founded respectively by St Brendan and St Ciarán . Clonfert was founded by St. Brendan the Navigator (on his return from America!) in 563 AD. The 12th century cathedral is the ultimate in Irish Romanesque architecture and considered the ‘jewel in the crown’ of that era.
Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly
On the other side of the great River Shannon is ‘St Ciarán’s plain of crosses’, the monastery founded by Ciarán in 548-9AD. Clonmacnoise (Cluan Mhic Nóis meaning “meadow of the Sons of Nóis”) was one of the most important monastic centres for learning in Ireland. Many manuscripts were written there, including the Annals of Tighernace (11th century) and the Book of the Dun Cow (12th century). Three very distinctive high crosses are amongst its most prized possessions.