Clonmacnoise in the Saucer of Ireland

Lately I found myself in Athlone – the center of Ireland – where the slow running river Shannon is full to it’s brim

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Behold Athlone Castle. IMG_0341

The central keep or ‘donjon’ has been finely restored

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and contains impressive treasures – like this huge lock which once secured the castle gate

IMG_0335 Best of all this Sheela-na-gig or ‘Sile-ina-Giob’ (Sheela on her hunkers). She is only one of about a hundred Sheelas remaining  in Ireland. She  formed the keystone of a water gate in Athlone. IMG_0334

Among the antique and bookshops of Athlone –  it is good to see the goddess culture endures

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Next door to the castle I did inspect Sean’s Pub – the oldest pub in Ireland – founded in 990AD. Surely it must have been a clóchan supplied with honey mead?

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Other interesting buildings include this award-winning Thai restaurant

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and this cute establishment

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 Wandering south of Athlone to  Clonmacnoise – Meadow Of The Sons Of Nós – which was once a major center of learning, religion and craftmanship

IMG_0201These plains flood each winter – but this year much more extensively  – as seen behind  Ciarán’s little tomb

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The little temple shrugs off the years since Ciarán died here in 606

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A sacred destination to which tired pilgrims travelled along this ancient path

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Home place to this exceptional high cross

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Standing four meters tall –  carved in sandstone in C900 –  depicting biblical scriptures in its panels

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badly weathered but still identifiable – the crucifixion

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         A craftsman from Donegal undertook to copy this masterpiece high cross

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Brendan Mc Gloin loved the cross so much that he painstakingly recreated each panel

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showing us the cross – as it would have been

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all rich and sacred and of itself festooned with texture

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See more about how he made it here.

Then when completed it was shipped to Oregon

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to honour the Irish people there.

At home the graveyard of Clonmacnois is still in use today.

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8 thoughts on “Clonmacnoise in the Saucer of Ireland

  1. I am totally gobsmacked by your pictures . Ah, Brendan is such a master. What a thing to carve. I can see the craftsmanship, but the love in what he was doing is there for all to see, and for a long time. Some people do not understand that the price of something is small if something is made to last hundreds of years.

    Love from Scotland

    Date: Sat, 8 Feb 2014 01:52:57 +0000 To: georgegunnwalling@hotmail.com

  2. HI Louise, Good Blog, nice to read the comments above, I feel more rewarded with those than the pitifull amount I recieved for three years toil.

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