Clonmacnoise’s early wooden structures from the 9th century began to be replaced with more durable stone buildings. Today’s imposing ruins, many of which have undergone comprehensive conservation work, reflect the hive of activity that once bustled about the place – an impressive 1,500 to 2,000 people lived and worked here during the 11th century.
Walking around the lichen-spotted ruins today, it’s easy to imagine the scurry of monks, the scrape and scribble of artists producing everything from manuscripts to works in stone and metal. One of the most impressive artworks is the ornate Bishop’s Crozier now on display in the National Museum of Ireland…
Such was Clonmacnoise’s importance to the island’s Christian heritage, it’s said that St Ciarán returned here centuries after his death to smite a would-be raider with the golden staff.