The Ancient Monks of Clonmacnoise

13The Monks were there that day. They stood with me in front of High Crosses. They walked with me amid the ruins of the cathedral and round towers. They noticed my tears as I read the gravestones embedded in lush green grass. I could hear them chanting in the wind that blew across the River Shannon to a peaceful place known as Clonmacnoise.

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Founded by St. Ciaran in the mid-6th century, Clonmacnoise is one of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland; and it wasn’t just any old monastery! It was once a leading center for religion and learning in Europe. It included a 10-acre settlement which housed not only monks, but also lay people – all working in collaboration. There were traders and crafts people with all the skills necessary to run a medieval town. There were artists who created remarkable works in stone and metal. There were learned scholars who wrote manuscripts, including the 11th century Annals of Tighernach, and the 12th century Book of the Dun Cow.

The monastery flourished for 600 years. Today you will find the imposing remains of a cathedral, 2 round towers and no fewer than seven of the original 17 churches constructed here. Among the ruins (which date back to 545AD) are three ancient high crosses. The North Cross, the oldest of the three, was created c.800. Only the limestone shaft and sandstone base survive. The South Cross is a 9th-century piece originally situated at the southern end of the site. It has one Christian scene on its west face; a rough carving of the Crucifixion of Christ. Many believe this cross to have been the inspiration for the third cross, the Cross of the Scriptures, whose sandstone is skillfully carved with intricate figures on all four sides and is the most impressive of the surviving Celtic crosses in Ireland.

I was with a group of tourists listening to a passionate guide explain what life must have been like for the monks and others who lived, learned and died at this place. It didn’t seem right discussing their amazing history as if they weren’t even there, because they WERE there. They were with me that day among the lichen-spotted stones in an ancient place where time stands still!

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1My response to today’s one-word prompt: Collaboration

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

I just returned from 16 days in Scotland and Ireland. What beauty and history there! At the Cliffs of Moher there is also danger. Many people have died, intentionally and accidentally, because the cliffs are high and the edges are so fragile. It is particularly dangerous when the wind is fierce – which is most of time! A memorial has been erected for those who have lost their lives here.

The trip was one I had looked forward to for quite some time. It will be the source of many pictures and stories to come. But for now, it’s just great to be back home. I missed my Word Press friends!

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Memorial at The Cliffs

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

In the Gloom

Ron Koeberer gettyimages

He walked through the door

and found a nothingness,

like the set of a silent movie

being filmed in black and white.

He could hardly tell

the ceiling from the floor.

In the gloom, he found a window

and pulled back gathered curtains.

Slender beams of light

exposed a million specks of dust,

all annoyed at being wakened

from their dream.

He was uncertain of his purpose,

but tenacious in his search.

He focused on the door –

then she breezed in!

Suddenly, the room was drenched in color!

A light had been switched on

and perceptively he knew

why he was there.

He tried to tell her

just how much

he’d missed her,

but she was fleeting…like the wind,

and disappeared.

Is that what it’s like

when you need someone,

but there is no “someone”

to be found?

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Tenacious

Photo by gettyimages/Ron Koeberer

Weekly Photo Challenge: Security

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This floodwall in Paducah, Kentucky offers security to the historic downtown area when the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers overflow their banks. Over three city blocks of the wall are painted in murals capturing the important moments in Paducah’s history. In addition to downtown Paducah, the floodwall protects and minimizes the flood risk for over 11,000 surrounding acres and more than 20,000 people. Security, indeed!

Weekly photo challenge: Security