Leitrim Crosses

This page contains information on the crosses of County Leitrim.  These include cross fragments at Cloone and the Tullaghan or Duncarbry Cross.  The location of County Leitrim is indicated by the red star on the map to the right.

Cloone Cross Fragments

From about the first century, Cloone was the center for the Con Maicne tribe.  It was known as Cluain Con Maicne or “the fertile meadow of the Con Maicne.”  The area had been populated deep into the pre-historic period as testified to by the presence of tombstones from the Bronze Age and a number of megalithic chamber graves.

St. Patrick visited the area and failed to convert the Con Maicne.  He did convert a young prince named Fraoch.  At some point, Fraoch founded a monastery at Cloone. This saint was known for his wisdom and piety and it is said that even St. Colmcille sought his council and advice.  Farce died around 570.

The monastery continued in existence at least into the 12th century as witnessed by an entry in the Annals of the Four Masters that informs us that Muirgeas Ua Muireadhaigh, airchinneach died there in 1101 while on his way to Clonmacnoise.

Cross Fragments

In the area around Cloone there are two high cross fragments and a base.  The fragments include a cross-shaft fragment and a cross-head fragment.

Cross-Shaft

The shaft fragment stands about 18 inches in height, measures nearly 11 inches across and is nearly 8 inches thick.  (Kelly, p. 156)  It is located in a niche in the modern wall of the graveyard at St. James Church in Cloone.  (Kelly p. 156)  The fragment is part of the upper shaft and it retains indications that it once had a ring.  The two faces each bear a figural image.  

South Face:  On the current South face is the figure of an ecclesiastic.  He seems to hold something to his chest and it also appears he has something at his neck, perhaps a brooch or  neckless.  While no identification can be made for certain, this may represent either St. Fraoch the founder of the monastery or St. Patrick who was involved in the establishment of the foundation there.  (Grant, p. 17, illustrations right and left p. 17)

North Face:  The figure on the current North face may be either a woman or a man.  The figure is seated and like the figure on the South face holds something in its lap.  Speculation would suggest a possible identification of the figure as the Virgin and Child or Christ or one of the Evangelists holding their gospel.  (Grant, p. 17)

Above this figure on the North face are the feet of another figure.  This figure would have been in the center of the head of the cross.  (Kelly, p. 156)  




Head-fragment

The fragment of a cross-head, comprising the transom of the cross is displayed in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Church in Cloone.  The fragment is 10 inches in height and 30 inches across the arms.

Face A:  There is the torso of a  robed figure.  The head and lower body are missing.  The arms extend to either side of the body with the hands spread to show the palms.  This seems to be part of the figure on the South face of the shaft described above.  (Kelly, p. 156, photos right p. 159)  It would be consistent with a depiction of the crucifixion.

Face B:  There is a small figure with an oval face.  The crown of the head and lower body are missing.  This figure is clothed in stylized drapes and holds a crozier in the left hand.  Above the other shoulder is a worn carving that mirrors the position of the crozier head above the opposite shoulder.  (Kelly, p. 156)  This carving might be consistent with an image of either the Last Judgment or Christ in Glory or it could simply be a bishop or abbot..

Face C:  One end of the arm has a panel of interlace.

Pyramidal Cross-base

This base is located in the graveyard at St. James’s Church in Cloone.  The base is 25 inches in height and at the base measures 35 inches narrowing to 19 inches at the top of the second step.  The base has no decoration but is consistent with those associated with a number of Irish High Cross bases.  It may well be that the base fits with the cross-shaft and partial cross-head.  (Kelly, p. 160)

Sources Consulted

Grant, Christine, “New Leitrim High Cross”, Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Winter, 1994), pp. 16-17.

Kelly, Dorothy, “Some Remains of High Crosses in the West of Ireland,”  The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 123 (1993), pp. 152-163.

The Parish of Aughavas and Cloone:  http://www.aughavascloone.ie/content.aspx?par=8&ContentId=28

Tullaghan or Duncarbry Cross

Tullaghan or Duncarbry cross, County Leitrim, Ireland

Tradition states the cross was found along the shore of Donegal Bay, north of its present location.  No archaeological features have been found in that area.  The cross was erected in Tullaghan village in 1778 as noted by an inscription on the base.  The intention of Major Dickson, who was responsible for the erection of the cross was to draw attention to the local market which was losing patronage in favor of the nearby Ballyshannon market.  Some time later it was moved to its present location on a hillock overlooking the Sligo-Bundoran road. 

The area where Tullaghan and the presumed monastery are situated is along a very short stretch of coast where the rivers Duff and Drowse meet the Donegal Bay and form boundaries with County Sligo to the south and County Donegal to the north.

Harbison describes the cross as “A tall, ringless and undecorated cross, with straight arms but an expanding upper limb and a shaft tapering near the top.”  (Harbison, 1992, p. 178)

Resources cited:

Aran Sweaters:  http://www.aransweatersdirect.com/blogs/blog/tullaghan-stone-cross

Aidymcglynn:  https://aidymcglynn.com/2016/03/04/tullaghan-high-cross/

Megalithicireland:  http:??www.megalithicireland.com/Tullaghan%20Cross.html

Historic Environment Viewer:  http://webgis.archaeology.ie/historicenviornment/


 Barney McLaughlin 2012