The monastery of Clonmacnoise was founded by St Ciarán in 546 a.d. and is one of Ireland’s most important ecclesiastical centers. St Ciaran was a young preacher from Roscommon who in 545 a.d convinced the local King Diarmait Uí Cerbaill to help him build a church here. Ciarán, however, died the following year at the age of 33 (the same age as Jesus died) of yellow fever and was reportedly buried under this first church. By the 9th century, this had become an important monastery attracting many pilgrims, craftsmen and scholars from all over Europe. It’s population probably reached 2000 and became the ‘choice’ place to buried for the Kings of Meath, Tara, and Connacht. during the next 400 years, it was attacked at least 27 times by the Irish, Vikings, and the Anglo-Normans before going into decline as many continental religious orders such as the Franciscans, Augustinians, Benedictines, and Cistercians entered Ireland. Buildings on-site include the churches Temple Ciaran, Temple Connor, and Temple Kelly, and the Cathedral where the last High King of Ireland, Rory O’Connor, is buried. There are also 2 Round Towers, 3 exquisite High Crosses. Some of Ireland’s most beautiful metal and stone artwork was created here and include The Clonmacnoise Crozier which is now on display in the National Museum of Ireland and the Cross of the Scriptures. Clonmacnoise was also visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979.