THE Round Tower of Clonmacnoise was never finished, for the monks objected to the price demanded by the chief mason; and one day that he was at the top of the tower, they said he should never come down till he lowered the price; and they removed the scaffolding.
Then he said, "It is easier to pull down than to build a tower," and he began to cast down stone by stone, so that he could descend in safety.
On this the monks grew alarmed, and prayed him to desist and the price should be paid; so he came down at their request, but would never again lay hand to the work, so the tower remains unfinished to this day.
The first bells ever used in all Ireland were hung at Clonmacnoise, but the people of Athlone, being jealous, came at night to steal the bells, and succeeded in carrying them away in a boat. However, before they got out of sight of the church, the boat went down, and the bells were never recovered, though the river was dragged from Athlone to Shannon Bridge.
At the seven churches of Clonmacnoise is to be seen the great cross of St. Kieran, beautifully carved of a stone not common to the country, called the Grecian stone,. and if a woman can clasp the cross round with her arms she will never die in childbirth.
At a pattern held there one time, a soldier from Athlone shot off the hand of a figure of St. Kieran, which was over the grand entrance, but returning home he fell from the boat, and was drowned in the very spot where the bells went down a hundred years before.
At Saints' Island, in the Shannon, the ruins of a monastery, which was destroyed by King John, may still be seen. When the monks, broken-hearted and beggared, were leaving their beautiful home, one of them kneeled down and prayed to God for forgiveness of his enemies. Immediately a well of pure water sprang up where the monk had knelt; and the water even to this day is held by the people to have the power to cure all diseases, if the soul of the patient, as he drinks of the well, is free from all malice and the desire of revenge upon those who may have injured him.