Here you will find a list of the useful historical religious crosses in Ireland that demonstrate the rich heritage of Ireland’s holy men and women.
There may have been an early Christian monastery in the valley where, according to tradition, St. Colmcille banished demons who enveloped the valley in a fog. The most conspicuous remains are the pillars decorated with cross-motifs and geometric designs which are now the ‘stations of the cross’ of the pilgrimage which takes place on the Saint’s feastday on June 9th. The pillars are spread over an area in the valley 3.5 miles long and the pilgrimage takes as many hours to complete.
Within a radius of about three miles from the village there are two fine court-tombs, one at Farranmacbride (Mannernamortee), north of the village and another at Malin More (Cloghanmore), both of the central court variety.
A Folk Village, with cottages typical of the valley, stands to the west of the village and includes a museum.
St. Colmcille founded a monastery here about 575 on lands given by King Aedh Ainmire. Not far away, at Culderimne, the saint had been heavily involved in a battle in 561 in a dispute over the ownership of a book! The monastery seems to have been well known from the 9th to the 16th century, and was plundered by Maelseachlain O’Rourke in 1187. It was plundered again in 1267 and 1315, and the last known abbot died in 1503.
The Church of Ireland church stands on the site of an older church of which nothing remains, and in front of this church the poet W.B. Yeats lies buried. Beside the road is the stump of a Round Tower which was struck by lightning in 1396. Tradition says that it will ultimately fall on the wisest man who passes it (so, if it falls on you, your wisdom will have been recognised – but too late!) To the right of the path leading from the road to the Church of Ireland church is a High Cross, consisting of what were two separate parts originally.
On the east face are Adam and Eve, David slays Goliath, Daniel in the Lions’ Den and Christ in Glory, while on the west face there is a Crucifixion.
Kilgobbin Cross is a tall granite cross in a square base. The south part of the ring and arm are missing, but a simple representation of the Crucifixion may be seen on both faces Cross is known to be dating from the 12th Century.
At Clones, the Presbyterian church (1854) is on left. The Church of Ireland church (1822) dominates the Diamond, the centrepiece of which is an excellent example of an early High Cross (9th or 10th century). Old Testament scenes are depicted on one side of the cross, while the reverse side illustrates New Testament stories.
The most important of these is a cross which on one side has interlacing forming a cross and a crucifixion scene above three figures, while on the other side is more interlacing.
Beside the cross are two small pillars, one with a man (Goliath?) with sword and shield, a bird, David and his harp and a curvilinear motif; while the other stone has on it a number of figures, one with a bell and a staff. The cross has been dated to the 18th century but at least some of the carving on the small pillars could be 9th century.
In the graveyard behind is an interesting early pillar on one side of which are carved two figures on either side of a marigold supported by a stem, on the other side there is a Crucifixion. The door of the Church of Ireland church is on 15th century date and beside the door is a stone lintel with a number of figures carved on it.
In a walled enclosure outside the village stands this gracile ninth-century High Cross, reassembled from fallen but intact sections found on the site of an early monastery attributed to St Columba. The carving is highly individual, the style outwardly ingenuous yet disarmingly beautiful in its effect. The details remain for the most part crisply defined and the subjects of the various panels can be readily identified, among them the Twelve Apostles, Adam and Eve, the Fiery Furnace, the Flight into Egypt, Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, and the Crucifixion. There are also representations of mythical beasts. Beside this cross is the base of another, of interest because the socket on top shows how these free-standing monuments were pieced together. It possibly belongs with the carved fragments preserved in the ruins of a nearby church.
Durrow High Cross, Laois
Durrow High Cross Durrow High Cross belonged to a monastery founded by St. Columba in 553, made possible by the generosity of Aedh, son of the local Prince Brendan. The monastery was plundered and burned a number of times. There is no trace left of the Monastery, but in the churchyard is a holy well and a High Cross – a 9th century relic which shows on one face: the rising of Christ, the sacrifice of Isaac and Christ with David and his harp and Christ with David killing a lion on the right. The second face shows: the soldiers guarding the tomb of Christ: two passion scenes and the Crucifixion. the third face shows Adam and Eve, and their son Cain slaying Abel. The fourth face shows: Zacharius, Elizabeth and John the Baptist. Another relic from the monastery is the Book of Durrow, which was written about 700 A.D. and may be seen in Trinity College, Dublin. The Crozier of Durrow is now preserved in the National Museum.
Kells High Crosses, Meath
The monastery at Kells would appear to have been first founded in 804 by monks from St. Colmcille’s foundation at Iona who were fleeing from the Viking invasions and seeking a safer place for their treasures. In 877 reliquaries of the saint were transferred to Kells. The monastery was raided by the Vikings in 919, 950 and 969.
The greatest treasure of the monastery – the Book of Kells, now in Trinity College, Dublin – which had possibly been written here in the early 9th century, was stolen in 1007 from the western sacristy of the church but was found two and a half months later without its gold shrine and covered by a sod. The monastery was raided many times in the course of the 11th century – this time by the Irish. It was burned in 1111 and again in 1156.
A famous Synod met here in 1152 to finalise the arrangement of dioceses in the country. This Synod raised Kells to a Diocese, but it was later reduced to parochial status. After this Kells became prominent as a Norman fortification, but while the Norman remains have vanished, there are many remnants of the old monastery.In the churchyard on the top of the hill are found the Round Tower and a number of High Crosses.