Near the border with Fermanagh, the lively town of CLONES (pronounced “clo-nez”) lies 20km southwest of Monaghan town, overlooking drumlin country from its hilltop perch. St Tiernach founded a monastery here in the sixth century and is supposedly buried in a reliquary stone coffin in a small graveyard off Ball Alley Lane, near which are the remains of a ninth-century round tower which was originally five storeys high. The monastic settlement was subsequently superseded by an Augustinian foundation and the sparse remains of the abbey are just a little way to the east, across MacCurtain Street. The town’s other significant relic is a richly carved high cross, which stands in the Diamond, somewhat overshadowed by the sombre shape of St Tiernach’s Church (Church of Ireland). The cross’s front panels depict scriptural scenes, such as the Garden of Eden, while the reverse is devoted to scenes from Christ’s life.

Just west of the town centre, above Cara Street, is the site of a Neolithic hill fort, which was used as the foundations for a short-lived twelfth-century Norman castle that was razed to the ground by local chieftains. Indeed the English did not regain control of Clones until 1601 and much of the contemporary town owes its layout to that period, while the presence of both Presbyterian and Methodist churches (John Wesley preached here several times in the 1770s) bears testament to the Plantation. In the nineteenth century prosperity arrived in Clones via the railways and the Ulster Canal, which connected Belfast to Lough Erne. At the bottom of Cara Street stands the Ulster Canal Stores, which at one time served as the distribution centre for wares arriving in Clones by water. Nowadays it houses small displays on the railways, lace-making and independence (Clones was a strong Republican base), as well as works by local artists.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Ireland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Spring equinox at Loughcrew: waking up to Ireland’s secret rock art

Spring equinox at Loughcrew: waking up to Ireland’s secret rock art

The Loughcrew hills near the centre of Ireland are little-known – but at the spring equinox they take on a special magic. On this spring bank holiday, Paul C…

01 May 2017 • Paul Clements local_activity Special feature
6 of the best road trips in the UK

6 of the best road trips in the UK

There is something about a road trip that creates an endless state of heightened excitement. It comes with a heart-in-mouth, funfair-like thrill. And no matter …

11 Apr 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook