Clonmacnoise - Temple Ciarán Church




N 53° 19' 35.22"   W 007° 59' 08.52"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

N 00953 30690

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Wednesday 20 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The twisted church seen from the west.

Clonmacnoise lies in a meander on the left bank of River Shannon, and it is one of the oldest early Christian settlements in Europe.

St. Ciarán along with Diarmait Uí Cerbaill founded it around 544 and he chose a central site in Ireland, at the crossroads of the main Irish river and the Esker Riada, the geological gravel and sand formation that stretches east-west across Ireland, so that the new monastery could be accessed from everywhere.
It soon became an important centre for studying religion and it attracted scholars and pupils from all over Europe, and grew into a large monastic city. It was also an important centre for craftmanship and trade.

In its best period it had up to 17 churches, but today only 7 of them survive in ruins. Along with these ruins, there are also three crosses and two round towers, one of which attached to a church.

Temple Ciarán is the smallest and oldest building in the monastic settlement, and it is said to be the burial place of St. Ciarán, the founder of the monastic site.
What really stands out of this shrine is the fact that the west-southwest (250°) gable is leaning to the south, giving the visitor the impression that the church is twisted.
The east-northeast (70°) gable has two antae and no window.
The west-southwest gable has only one anta projecting from the north wall. The one from the south wall is missing because the south wall and part of the west gable were reconstructed in a later century. The west doorway has sloping jambs, typical of early Irish churches. It is round-headed, but the top of the arch is lintelled.
Against the east-northeast wall is a cross slab set vertically. In the north-northeast corner of the shrine a slab is set sideways and diagonally, and this is said to be the burial spot of St. Ciarán.

We came to Clonmacnoise for the first time on July 4th, 1994, and again on May 18th, 2002.

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