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People in history - A monk in an early Christian monastery in Ireland

I am a monk. I live in Ireland in the sixth century. I came from


Britain where I was captured in a raid by Irish warriors.
Monks are holy men who want to pray and honour God.
Monasteries are centres of learning and culture. We study the bible,
copy manuscripts, produce great works of art through metalworking
and stone-carving and welcome visitors. We live very simple lives.
We follow strict rules and produce our own food. We wear long
tunics with woollen cloaks, and shoes or sandals. I live in the
monastery at Clonmacnoise.
In the larger monasteries, including the one I live in, the
buildings are surrounded by a circular bank or wall, similar to a ring-
fort. Some monasteries have two walls, one inside the other. The
main building is the oratory, or church. The church is a simple stone
building. Other buildings include the abbot’s house, the refectory,
where we eat our meals, the scriptorium, where we copy
manuscripts, and the guesthouse for visitors. Monks live in single
cells. Beside the church is the cemetery or graveyard. Monks are
buried in simple graves dug in the ground, or in stone cist graves.
Round towers are stone towers between 25 and 40 metres tall.
They are wide at the base and taper towards the top. The door is
high above the ground and is reached by a ladder. Inside there are
four wooden floors. At the top of the tower, there are four windows,
facing north, south, east and west. The towers are used as belfries
when a handbell is rung from the top window to call the monks to
services. They are also used for storage and for safety when the
monastery is attacked by the Vikings.
Our main activity is prayer. We have six to eight services each day.
During the rest of the day there is work to be done on the farm –
ploughing, milking, and harvesting and grinding corn.
Monasteries produce manuscript books. Manuscripts are hand-
written books. The gospels, the psalms, the lives of the saints and
the Celtic sagas are written down. Some of the most important
manuscripts are the Cathach, the Book of Durrow and the Book of
Kells. Monks who develop great skills in writing and illuminating
religious books are called scribes.