Embark on a Captivating Tour of the Ancient Clonmacnoise Ruins
For a relatively small country, Ireland is one that makes a big impact. The Irish people are loved wherever they go thanks to their down-to-earth, warm and friendly spirit, so it’s easy to see why the Emerald Isle is one of the most visited countries in the world.
Attracting over 11 million tourists each year, Ireland has a special kind of magic about it that just can’t be found elsewhere. Whether you’re interested in the country’s rich tumultuous history, the beautiful scenery that will leave you with a lump in your throat, or you want to enjoy a pint of Guinness with the locals, then a luxury canal cruise aboard the Shannon Princess is the perfect way to experience all of that – and more.
From the moment you step aboard the Shannon Princess luxury hotel barge you’ll feel relaxed thanks to the warm, inviting decor, spacious layout, and luxurious amenities onboard – while at the same time feeling excited to explore the beautiful country of Ireland.
All of our hotel barges and canal cruises are designed and tailored to ensure that our guests get the very best experience and can make the most out of their trip, so it’s hard say what the best part is when cruising on the Shannon Princess.
However, one of the definite highlights on this particular canal cruise is the unforgettable tour of the Clonmacnoise ruins. Dating back to the 6th Century, the Clonmacnoise monastery was one of the most important monastic sites in all of Ireland during the medieval period.
It is also one of the most beautiful, and today it remains as a popular visitor destination. When you visit the Clonmacnoise ruins, you’ll be able to see exactly what makes it so special.
So, although we don’t want to give away too much about this spectacular place, since it’s really something that needs to be seen in person to get the full experience, we do want to give you a little taster of what you can expect during your visit.
History of Clonmacnoise
Clonmacnoise was founded by a group of monks from Wicklow in the 6th century AD. It was a centre of learning and religion in Ireland up until the end of the 12th century.
During its heyday, the monastery was the most important centre of early Christian culture in Ireland, and its school attracted students from all over Europe.
The site was occupied until the 16th century, but all that remains are a few walls and round towers. It’s believed that destruction of the site was brought about by Cromwell’s army, who ransacked the monastery in the 17th century, as well as by the great river Shannon, which has been flooding the area for centuries, often washing away parts of the monastery.
Today, the ruins of the old monastery of Clonmacnoise stand on a grassy hill above the River Shannon.
It’s a place where you can still feel the presence of times past as you walk along silent cloisters, stare up at arches and pillars, and imagine what life was like for the monks who lived here almost 1,000 years ago.
Main Attractions at Clonmacnoise
The Round Tower
This tower is one of the few remnants of the medieval monastery and is believed to be the oldest round tower in Ireland, dating back to the 9th century.
Built in the 14th century, this church was reconstructed in the 19th century after being damaged by the river.
The church’s graveyard houses the remains of many high-ranking people, from the medieval and early modern periods, including the O’Carroll family who ruled the area in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Although the church’s interior has been reconstructed, it still retains its beautiful stain glass windows, as well as a baptismal font dating back to the 14th century.
Ruins of the Monastery
Once upon a time the monastery was home to great scholars who were responsible for preserving a lot of Ireland’s history.
Unfortunately, the monastery was destroyed many years ago. All that remains today is the foundations and a handful of walls. Despite the damage, the monastery’s foundations are still an impressive sight to see.
The monastery’s foundations are spread over a large area and are surrounded by beautiful gardens.
There are a lot of different paths and trails that lead to the monastery’s ruins. You can also find some information boards along the way.
St. Coman’s Chapel
Next on our list is St. Coman’s Chapel. This small chapel is believed to have been constructed in the 10th century. It was built to honor St. Coman, who was a prominent monk at Clonmacnoise.
The chapel is believed to have been used as a sacristy or a place where priests would prepare for mass.
St. Coman’s Chapel is still in fairly good condition despite its age. However, there’s a small fence that surrounds the chapel that prevents you from getting too close.
Not to worry though: there’s a nearby path that takes you within a few feet of the chapel.
If you follow the path that runs alongside the chapel, you can also see a small stream that flows nearby.
The Great Hall and High Crosses
You can’t go to a monastery without visiting the Great Hall. This impressive structure was likely used for dining and hosting guests.
The Great Hall is made up of a few long wooden tables that have been carved with intricate designs, including a large stone fireplace, which has been decorated with various carvings. A few of the tables feature carvings of plants, animals, and even faces.
The Great Hall also contains three beautiful high crosses made from stone and are believed to have been created in the 10th century.
You can find the high crosses at the end of the Great Hall beside the Round Church.
Your Hotel Barge Cruise on the Shannon Princess
The Shannon Princess, can comfortably carry up to ten people and is the biggest hotel barge to sail the River Shannon and its connecting lakes.
The carefully-designed interior of Shannon Princess features a pleasant lounge and dining area with panoramic windows so that guests can enjoy a fully view during sailing.
Accommodation includes five junior twin/double cabin suites with picture windows, and as well as being stylish in their furnishing, are air-conditioned, centrally heated, and include a modern en-suite shower room.
Watching the scenery pass by as you relax on one of the comfortable loungers or in the spa pool is a real pleasure to be enjoyed on the large rooftop sundeck.
On warmer days, you may dine alfresco in an inviting dining area with a circular table while the Captain and his staff will make sure you have everything you need, and a Master Chef who studied at Ballymaloe Cookery School will prepare some exquisite signature dishes to make your trip through Ireland and to the Clonmacnoise ruins unforgettable.
Ready to Experience it for Yourself?
If you’re looking for the holiday of a lifetime, then we’d love to help you plan it. Get in touch with our friendly, experienced cruise experts who will be happy to walk you through the different options we have available and tailor your perfect trip aboard a luxury canal cruise through one of the most scenic countries in the world.
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