Clonmacnoise, County Offaly

We left our first Bed and Breakfast in Athlone with full stomachs, a repaired tire, and headed south. Clonmacnoise is located here, about 10 km south of Athlone, in County Offaly. We must be getting used to the roads because finding it was pretty easy.
"Clonmacnoise is a 6th Century monastic site, with three high crosses, a cathedral, seven churches and two round towers. This great monastery was founded in 548-9 by Saint Ciaran. Clonmacnoise was a great centre of learning, and many manuscripts, including the Annals of Tighernach (11th century) and the Book of the Dun Cow (12th century), were written here. The centrepiece of the new Interpretative Centre is the 9th-century Cross of the Scriptures."
Unfortunately the power was out and the indoor exhibits were closed, but they did give us the student discount as a result.

With the indoor exhibits closed we headed outdoors to join another tour group. It was another cloudy, rainy day in Ireland and the photos tended to be dark. Who'd have guessed?

Our tour guide was as you would expect, red hair and a thick accent. As we've found with other tour guides their scripts are well rehearsed and very entertaining.

Here he is describing all the carvings on the high cross. This cross is actually a hollow concrete copy. The original is on display inside, protected from vandals and the elements. Legend has it that it cures back pain. All you do is stand on the base and wrap your arms around the cross, like you are hugging it.

There are many interesting features here. One is the stone bowl pictured below.

Tradition holds that if you have any warts you can dip them in the bowl and they will be healed.

The architecture of the main cathedral, now in ruins, is amazing. Here Susan and Brandy demonstrate the whispering arch.

The marble in the doorway is so smooth they carry whispers around the arch from one side to the other. Pretty neat!

Our next B&B is in Clifden, on Ireland's west coast. We have to travel over half the width of the country to get there, but seeing the sun set over the Atlantic will a neat change of pace.


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