The Historic Midlands and Clonmacnoise
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Venture into Ireland’s spiritual past. The monasteries of long ago...
Kilteel is close to the N7 and the beginning of the way southwards to see the Romanesque doorway of Killeshin in Co. Laois, described as the finest of its kind in Ireland, with beautiful sculpture of human heads and intertwining hair.
From Killeshin go westwards for the round tower of Timahoe and then across the hills to Seir Kieran in County Offaly, where an ancient thorn tree is venerated to this day. The route goes north from Seir Kieran, through Tullamore to Durrow and one of the best examples of Celtic crosses. Then westwards to reach Clonmacnoise, enchantingly situated on the banks of the River Shannon and with a unique assemblage of Celtic crosses and ancient sculpture, a round tower and the ruins of Medieval churches. It enjoyed a thousand years of fame as a place of pilgrimage and interest was revived when Pope John Paul II celebrated mass there in 1979.
From Clonmacnoise go east to Boher church to see the marvellous 12th Century shrine made to contain the relics of St. Manchan. Then head northwards through County Longford, with traces of Cistercian monasteries at Abbeyshrule and Abbeylaragh and a much more ancient church in the charming village of Ardagh. After these, it’s north east to County Louth, the round towers of Inishkeen, Dromiskin and Monasterboice, where you linger for another of the great places of Irish monasticism. There are two Celtic crosses and one of them, though very different in its realistic rather than slightly abstract style, claims equal rank with the cross of Moone.