clonmacnoise ireland

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Clonmacnoise Castle, County Offaly, Ireland

During the period of 1170-1220 the Anglo-Normans began the colonization of Ireland, building Motte and Bailey Castles throughout the island. The wooden castle that stood on the top of the motte at Clonmacnoise was destroyed by fire and later in 1214 the Justiciar of Ireland, Henry of London, built a stone castle on the motte. This was to guard the bridge across the River Shannon.

The castle was destroyed during the Gaelic Resurgence in the late 13th to early 14th century. Originally it had three stories but very little remains of the castle today. The ruins are very dangerous, delicately balanced in a bizarre but fascinating position on the edge of the mound.

I went on a trip to Ireland in 2012 and one of the wonderful places I visited was the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise. I painted one of the photos I took there for today’s “crumble” Sketch Daily theme. Painting this sure made me feel nostalgic.

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Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly, Ireland

Clonmacnoise is an ancient christian monastery site originally founded by St. Ciarán in 546. It later grew into a centre of scholarship, artistry and trade in addition to it’s religious significance before it began to  decline in the 12th century. It was attacked many times by Irish, Viking and Norman raiders seeking it’s rich plunder,  and also served as a burial place for kings. Nearby are the precarious ruins of a 13th century motte-and-bailey castle.

Clonmacnoise Crucifixion Plaque

A plaque with a Crucifixion scene. Christ dominates the frame with outstretched arms, above him are angels and below him are his torturers. Densely stylized and ornamented with patterns and swirls.

Cast out of bronze, perhaps meant to be used as a book cover.

Made in the 10th century at the monastery of Clonmacnoise in Ireland during the Viking Age. Numerous attacks by the vikings may have had artistic influence on the early Irish monks. Currently held at the National Museum of Ireland.