Clonmacnoise, wonderfully sited on the water meadows of the River Shannon, remains one of Ireland's holiest places. Even in ruin, this monastic city of St Ciaran, with its cathedral and churches, its high crosses and round towers, its decorated grave-slabs and pilgrims' paths is a must for all visitors. Its story of stone, metal and manuscript is evocatively recalled in the adjoining visitor centre.
The Centre houses the original high crosses, and grave-slabs and includes an audiovisual show (English, French, German, and Italian versions - 8 minutes long) as well as a number of exhibitions.
In medieval times, the centre of veneration was the tomb of the founding saint, who lies buried here at what was once the centre of Ireland and where the main east-west roadway crossed the main north-south traffic artery of early Ireland, the River Shannon. The Shannon still brings many visitors by boat - but it was a helicopter which brought Clonmacnoise its most famous pilgrim-visitor, Pope John Paul II - who visited the site in 1979.
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