Clonmacnoise was founded in 544 by St. Ciarán, a young man from Rathcroghan, County Roscommon. Until the 9th century it had close associations with the kings of Connacht. The strategic location of the monastery helped it become a major centre of religion, learning, craftsmanship, and trade by the 9th century and together with Clonard it was the most famous in Ireland, visited by scholars from all over Europe. From the ninth until the eleventh century it was allied with the kings of Meath. Many of the high kings of Tara and Connacht were buried here. Today it's an important cultural location in the Midlands and right on our doorstep. It's one of my favourite places and in particular in winter when it's not quite so busy. But it's also beautiful to visit in the evening when everyone has left and you visit by approaching from the Pilgrim road and back entrance.