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If you are looking for a place to visit that combines history, culture and spirituality, you might want to consider Clonfert Cathedral near the town of Ballinasloe in County Galway. This cathedral is one of the oldest and most beautiful examples of Romanesque architecture in the country, and it has a rich and fascinating story to tell.

Clonfert Cathedral was built in the 12th century at the site of an earlier 6th century church founded by Saint Brendan, also known as Brendan the Navigator. Saint Brendan was one of the most famous Irish saints and explorers, who is said to have travelled across the Atlantic Ocean in search of the mythical island of Paradise. He founded several monasteries in Ireland and abroad, but Clonfert was his main base and his final resting place.

The monastery of Clonfert soon became an important religious and cultural center in the region, attracting thousands of monks and scholars from all over Europe. The monastery was renowned for its learning, art and literature, and it produced many manuscripts and relics that are now preserved in museums and libraries. The monastery also played a role in the political and social life of Ireland, as it was involved in several conflicts and reforms throughout the centuries.

The most striking feature of Clonfert Cathedral is its ornate west doorway, which is considered to be one of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture in Ireland. The doorway is decorated with over 200 carved stones, depicting various scenes and symbols from the Bible, Celtic mythology and medieval life. Some of the most notable carvings include a lion attacking a man, a dragon swallowing a bird, a centaur shooting an arrow, and a representation of Christ in Majesty.

The interior of the cathedral is also impressive, as it contains several historical and artistic elements. The nave is divided into three aisles by two rows of arches supported by pillars with carved capitals. The chancel is separated from the nave by a stone screen with three arches, which dates back to the 13th century. The cathedral also houses several tombs, monuments and memorials, including the grave of Saint Brendan, which is marked by a simple slab with a cross.

Clonfert Cathedral is open to visitors all year round. The cathedral is located in the village of Clonfert, about 15 km from Ballinasloe in Galway. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome.

Visiting Clonfert Cathedral is a great way to experience the history and culture of Ireland, and to admire the beauty and craftsmanship of Romanesque art. You will also have the opportunity to learn more about Saint Brendan, one of the most influential figures in Irish Christianity and legend. Whether you are interested in religion, art or adventure, you will find something to inspire you at Clonfert Cathedral.


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Clonfert Cathedral



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