Carlow Crosses

The crosses of County Carlow include:  Clonmore North Cross, Clonmore South Cross, Garryhoundon, Kildreenagh/Newtown Cross, Lorum Cross, Nurney Cross, Old Leighlin, Orchard Cross, St. Mullins Cross, Tullow or Templeowen Cross and Watertown Cross.  County Carlow is located with a star on the map to the right.

Clonmore Crosses

The old monastic site at Clonmore in County Carlow has numerous remains from the Early Christian period in-spite of the absence of any remains of a church or other buildings.  In addition to crosses there are an ogham stone, two bullauns, a “font” and a number of cross-decorated slabs.

History of the Monastery

Some time in the sixth century, perhaps about 560, St. Mochaemog (Mogue) founded a monastery at Clonmore.  Harbison points out that this Mogue is not to be confused with a saint of the same name at Ferns in Co. Wexford.  (Harbison, 1991, p. 178)  One estimate, not footnoted, suggests that as many as 5000 monks and scholars may have lived there at the height of the monasteries prestige.  (McDonald)

Legend tells us that a St. Onchuo, a contemporary of Mogue was responsible for the presence of a great treasure of relics of the Saints of Ireland at Clonmore.  It is told that Onchuo was interested in history and spent years traveling around Ireland to places of ecclesiastical importance collecting history and relics from church leaders noted for sanctity.  These he brought to Clonmore seeking a relic from St. Mogue.  Mogue denied the request but immediately one of his thumbs dropped off as if severed and was added to the collection of relics.  While Onchuo, also known as Aedus and Aidenus may never have existed, the story suggests that Clonmore did in fact have a large quantity of relics of early Irish saints.  (Harbison, 1992, p. 178; McDonald)

Comerford and McDonald mention a number of other saints associated with Clonmore.  I presume these saints are named in the Martyrology of Tallaght, though this is not specifically stated.  The list includes:

St. Finan, who is also associated with the abbeys of Innisfallen in Kerry and Ardfinane in Tipperary, who may have been abbot at Clonmore following Mogue;

St. Brogan Cloen who lived at Clonmore, perhaps between 620 and 650.  He composed a hymn in praise of St. Brigid while there;  

St. Stephen or Straffan who is also mentioned as succeeding St. Mogue around 615.  He is another saint who may or may not be associated with Clonmore in Co. Carlow;

St. Ternoc or Ternog:  While he is mentioned in the Martyrology of Tallaght and may be associated with Clomore in Carlow or a Clonmere elsewhere;  (omniums