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Clonmacnois, Monastery of


Former monastic foundation in County Offaly, Ireland (Gaelic, Clúain moccu Nois). St. Ciarán (or Kieran) founded it in 545; it was exceeded in influence only by armagh, and it in turn outshone Armagh in learning and sanctity. Its paruchia extended over about half of Ireland, and students flocked there, even from abroad. From its scriptorium came some of the most valuable manuscripts Ireland possesses: Chronicon Scotorum, Annals of Tigernach, Rawlinson B 502, and Lebor na h Uidre. It successfully resisted domination by secular princes, and in the 8th and 9th centuries it was a reforming influence in a period of general decline. In the 10th century its abbots began to exercise episcopal jurisdiction, thus originating the Diocese of Clonmacnois. Referred to as the Westminster Abbey of Ireland (with countless royal tombs), it invited marauding attacks from its beginnings until its final razing at the hands of the English in 1552. Some idea of the magnitude of this monastic city may still be gained from the surviving ruins: two round towers, eight churches, three large sculptured irish crosses, a castle, and

over 200 inscribed tombstones, all of which have been the subjects of an imposing list of studies.

Bibliography: j. r. garstin, "On the Identification of a Bronze Shoe-shaped Object as Part of the Head of an Ancient Irish Crozier," Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy ser. 2, 1 (1879) 261264. Clonmacnois, Kings County, extract from the 75th annual report of the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland (Dublin 190607). j. f. kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: v. 1, Ecclesiastical (New York 1929) 1:376383. r. a. macalister, "Story of Clonmacnois," Proceedings of the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society ser. 2, 1 (193540) 911. f. o. briain, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 13:1014. j. ryan, "The Abbatial Succession at Clonmacnois," Essays and Studies Presented to Professor Eoin MacNeill, ed. j. ryan (Dublin 1940) 490507. e. h. l. sexton, Descriptive and Bibliographical List of Irish Figure Sculptures of the Early Christian Period (Portland, Maine 1946) 101114. h. g. leask, Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings, 3 v. (Dundalk, Ire. 195560).

[c. mcgrath]

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