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Clonmacnois, one of the most celebrated of Ireland’s holy places, is beside the River Shannon, 4 miles (6 km) north of Shannonbridge. St Ciaran founded a monastery here in 548 A.D. which became the most famous of all the monastic cities of Ireland. It flourished under the patronage of many kings; the last High King, Rory O’Conor, was buried here in 1198.
Down the centuries however, Clonmacnois was the object of many plundering raids by native chiefs and by the Danes and the Anglo-Normans. In 1552 the settlement was despoiled by the English garrison of Athalone, who carried off even the glass in the windows.The site at Clonmacnois contains a cathedral, eight church ruins, two round towers, three sculptured high crosses and part of two others, over 200 monumental slabs and the remains of a castle.