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A Field Trip to Clonmacnois.  

We went on a trip to Clonmacnois. It is just across the river from our school but we had to go to Shannonbridge to cross the Shannon and get to Clonmacnois. It was a misty day but when we arrived there we went into a small theatre to watch a film.

    We learned a lot from the film. We learned that Clonmacnois grew up at a cross-roads of the Shannon and Esker Riada. Eskers were formed in the last Ice Age. When the ice melted a pile of gravel and stones was left and people found it easier to travel along this esker as it went through the bog and made a good road.

        People crossed the Shannon at Clonmacnois to go to Tara the seat of the High King. Munster men left their boats at Clonmacnois when they were going to Tara. In the last few years archaeological divers found a bridge under the water at Clonmacnois. We found out that the monastery was a busy place. Two thousand people lived there at one time.

         Clonmacnois was the greatest school in Europe, a center for Art, litrature and learning. The monastry was 10 acres in area. Vikings, Normans and the Irish put it on fire 15 times. The Normans raided it 6 times, the Vikings raided it 8 times and the Irish raided it an incredible 27 times. Each time it was rebuilt.

In 1552 the English garrison from Athlone raised it to the ground. Everything was carried off. It remained a burial ground. It remained a place of pilgrimage. People go there to an open-air mass on St. Ciarans Feast Day in September. We go too but this was our first time inside the visitors center.

  Our guide came. Her name was Joy and she brought us on a tour. First we went to see the cross Of the Scriptures.It is probably the most well known cross in Clonmacnois. On this cross there are scenes from the life of Jesus and scenes from the life of Saint Kieran who founded the monastery in 548.

The Southern Cross has a lot of Celtic design on it and circles called bosses.

 The North Shield is shaped like a stake. This the oldest of the three monuments.It has no top. It has got interwined animals and some more Celtic design.  

 Duchas realized that the crosses were getting worn by the rain and weather so they decided to move the crosses. This was a huge job as the crosses are 12 feet high. They got a crane and lifted the crosses into place. I would not like that job in case they fell. When the crosses were in place they built three modern huts made of stone around them.

Then they thought people would still like to see  the crosses outside so they built replicas of the crosses and put them outside. The first cross they made was carved by a sculptor and was not exact enough so they decided to make  moulds and make new crosses from a mixture of sandstone and resin. The new crosses look just like the old ones .In the picture you can see Martin and Stephen beside the Cross of the Scriptures replica and behind them you can see the new modern huts where the old crosses are on display.


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