Ciaran didn’t live to see the growth of the monastery. He died of plague at the age of 33, only 4 years after founding it.
The remains of the stone chapels and buildings that stand there now date to the 10th century. The original structures would have been built of wood.
Clonmacnoise became a great center of learning, attracting scholars from Ieland and Europe. There was a Scriptorium here, where scribes labored long hours to master the skills of illumination that would result in the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow.
That is the River Shannon behind the round tower in the photo above. Looks very peaceful, doesn’t it? However, much violent history took place at Clonmacnoise. It was destroyed by fire at least 13 times. Imagine an evening 1500 years ago. You are coming in from a long day toiling in the fields.
The monks rebuilt each time.