Monastic Sites

Offaly’s early Christian monastic heritage is being rediscovered and presented to locals and visitors in a fresh way.

Kinnitty Castle boasts its very own High Cross located just in front of the Castle and remains of the ancient monastery can be seen in the existing castle walls.

Clonmacnoise (6th century) with it’s Heritage Centre on the banks of the river Shannon is the jewel in the crown with three High Crosses, decorated Grave Slabs (600+), round tower, churches and Pilgrim’s Way. The Monastery at Clonmacnois,Co Offaly, was founded in the 6th century by St Ciaran, the monastery became a great centre of learning and many famous manuscripts were written here, including the Book of Dun Cow written in the 12th century. Amongst the many remains at Clonmacnois are two complete High Crosses plus the remains of another. The most famous being, the Cross of the Scriptures, also known as King Flann's Cross, It is the centre-piece of the new interpretive centre, the crosses were...

Durrow (Darú in Irish) (meaning 'plain of the oaks') is a small rural village in County Offaly, Ireland. Durrow is located on the N52 off the N6 road between Kilbeggan (in County Westmeath) and Tullamore (in County Offaly). Durrow Abbey, surrounded by woods, is one of Ireland's most important early christian monasteries founded by Saint Colmcille. In the middle of the 6th century a monastery was founded here by St Colomba, the monastery is famous for an illuminated manuscript.

Durrow Abbey lies less than three miles from Tullamore, the site of Columcille’s 6th century monastery and 10th century Durrow High Cross. Durrow is most famously associated with the Book of Durrow, an illustrated 7th century gospels manuscript which can be viewed in Trinity College, Dublin. Also close to Tullamore are monasteries at Killeigh (5th century), Rahan (6th century) and Lynally (6th century).

Boher church, associated with Lemanaghan (7th century), contains the finest item on public display outside the National Museum. St. Manchin’s Shrine, a magnificent 12th century reliquary with bronze ornamentation has been in the area for over 700 years. It also contains beautiful stained glass windows by Harry Clarke.

For anyone, with even a passing interest in history, this is a number one site to visit. Because of Offaly’s monastic treasures - archaeological, architectural, artistic and spiritual, it is probably unfair to mention one place above the other. However, for those people who like to take a map, plan their own trip, get lost and meet the natives – here is a additional list of sites of monastic interest (with century founding date).

Birr (6th), Kinnitty (6th), Letter (Cadamstown) (6th), Drumcullen (6th), Seir Kieran (5th), Tihilly (7th), Gallen(Ferbane) (5th), Clonsast (7th), Croghan Hill (5th), Wheery (5th), Tisaran (7th), Banagher (6th ), Clonfert (6th), Kilcomin (7th).

“The Monastic Way” - Touring route from Dublin to Galway passing through Offaly and the midlands.

To view map and details of sites, log onto http://www.monasticway.com