Waterford Crosses

This page highlights the crosses of County Waterford.  There are two crosses, or more properly a cross and a cross base.  The cross base is LOST.  The crosses are Ballynaguilkee Lower aka Ballynamult and Lismore.  The location of County Waterford is indicated by a red star on the map to the left.

Ballynaguilkee Lower aka Ballynamult

The illustration to the left was produced by George Victor Du Noyer an Irish painter, geologist and antiquary.  From 1934 until 1948 he was employed by the Irish Ordnance Survey.  This watercolor would have been produced during that time.

The original cross base was quite small.  It measured 9 inches high, 13 inches wide and about 9 inches deep.  The shaft, a small portion of which remained, was 7.5 inches wide by 3 inches deep.

The two images to the left represent the sides of the base.  The side above has a plain central square surrounded by a meander design.  The opposite side also has meander design in two panels that are separated by a central undecorated panel.

The two images to the right represent the two faces of the base.  The face above has a single panel of interlace.  On the opposite side there are two panels of interlace side by side.

Just visible on the shaft fragment in the image above right is what may be a meander or and angular spiral design.  There is no carving on the other three sides of the shaft.

(Illustrations from Harbison, 1992, Vol. 2, Figs. 57-60)

It is unclear when the base and shaft fragment went missing but easy to imagine them being carried off without great effort.

Lismore Cross

The Monastery

We know only bits and pieces about the history of the Lismore monastery.  It was established by Saint Mochuda, also known as Saint Carthage around the year 630.  More will be told of Mochuda, who died in 637, below (see The Saint).  

Lismore was mentioned numerous times in the Annals of Inisfallen between 701 and 1024.  The list of entries provides us with the names of a number of the abbots or bishops of Lismore.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lismore,_County_Waterford and http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T100004/index.html )  

The photo of the Lismore Castle, below right, is included because it was built on the site of the ancient monastery.  The photo is from www.lismorecastle.com, 2015.

•  AI701.1 Kl. Repose of Cúánna of Les Mór.

AI707.1 Kl. Conodur of Les Mór rested.

AI730.1 Kl. Repose of Colmán grandson of Lítán, abbot of Les Mór.

AI752.3 Repose of Mac Uige, abbot of Les Mór.

AI760.1 Kl. Tríchmech, abbot of Les Mór, rested, and Abnér, abbot of Imlech Ibuir.

AI763.1 Kl. Repose of Rónán, bishop of Les Mór.

AI768.1 Kl. Aedan, abbot of Les Mór, rested.

AI774.2 Suairlech, abbot of Les Mór, [rested].

AI778.2 Repose of Airdmesach of Les Mór.

AI783.3 Repose of Suairlech Ua Tipraiti in Les Mór.

AI794.4 Violation(?) of the Rule of Les Mór in the reign of Aedán Derg.

AI814.1 Kl. Repose of Aedán moccu Raichlich, abbot of Les Mór.

AI814.2 The abbacy of Les Mór to Flann, son of Fairchellach.

AI818.2 The shrine of Mochta of Lugmad in flight before Aed,son of Niall, and it came to Les Mór.

AI825.1 Kl. Repose of Flann son of Fairchellach, abbot of Les Mór, Imlech Ibuir, and Corcach.

AI833.1 Kl. Les Mór Mo-Chutu and Cell Mo-Laise plundered by the heathens.

AI867.1 Kl. Amlaíb committed treachery against Les Mór, and Martan was liberated from him.

AI883.1 Kl. The burning of Les Mór by the son of lmar.

AI912.1 Kl. Repose of Mael Brigte son of Mael Domnaig, abbot of Les Mór.

AI920.1 Kl. The martyrdom of Cormac son of Cuilennán, bishop and vice-abbot of Les Mór, abbot of Cell Mo-Laise,king of the Déisi, and chief counsellor of Mumu, at the hands of the Uí Fhothaid Aiched.

AI938.1 Kl. Repose of Ciarán son of Ciarmacán, abbot of Les Mór Mo-Chutu.

AI947.1 Kl. A leaf [descended] from heaven upon the altar of Imlech Ibuir, and a bird spoke to the people; and many other marvels this year; and Blácair, king of the foreigners, was killed.

AI953.2 Repose of Diarmait, abbot of Les Mór.

AI954.3 Diarmait son of Torpaid, abbot of Les Mór, [rested].

AI958.3 Repose of Cinaed Ua Con Minn, bishop of Les Mór and Inis Cathaig.

AI959.2 Repose of Maenach son of Cormac, abbot of Les Mór.

AI983.3 Repose of Cormac son of Mael Ciarain, abbot of Les Mór.

AI1024.3 Repose of Ua Maíl Shluaig, coarb of Mo-Chutu.

Lismore was not immune to the Viking attacks of the 9th century.  The town and monastery were burned on eight different occasions.  (http://www.lismore-ireland.com/about-us/history-of-lismore)

Like many of the early monasteries of Ireland, Lismore developed a school that over time produced some notable graduates.  Before the end of the 7th century St. Cathaldus founded a monastery at Taranto in southern Italy.  In the 12th century Lismore was deeply involved in the reform movement that concluded with the Synod of Rath Breeasail.  Indeed Saint Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland, who led the reform movement, was a graduate of Lismore.  (http://www.lismore-ireland.com/about-us/history-of-lismore)

Nothing seems to be available concerning the decline and end of the history of the Lismore monastery.  What we do know is that the Lismore castle is built on the site of the old monastery.  It was ordered built in 1171 by King Henry II of England and completed by 1185 as an Episcopal residence for the local bishop.  Whether this indicates the end of the monastery is not known.  (http://www.lismore-ireland.com/about-us/history-of-lismore)

The Saint

St. Carthage (of Lismore) or Mochuda, was a native of Kerry.  His given name was probably Chuda with the Mo was added as a sign of affection, as in my dear Chuda.  As a boy he was introduced to bishop Carthage (the elder), from whom the name Carthage may derive.  Attracted by the singing of psalms, he followed Carthage and some other clergy and spent the night outside the monastery of Thuaim listening to them sing far into the night.  The chieftain of the area Moeltuili, who was fond of Mochuda went looking for him and on finding him and hearing his explanation, sent for the bishop and recommended Mochuda to his care.  The bishop took on Mochuda and cared for and educated him until his ordination as a priest.  This happened about the year 580.  (Lanigan, p. 351)

The image to the right is from http://catholicsaints.info/butlers-lives-of-the-saints-saint-carthagh-or-mochudu-bishop-of-lismore/, 2015

After moving from place to place, Mochuda was encouraged to establish a monastery.  He selected a place called Raithin or Rathen, located in Westmeath.  This monastery, founded about 590, grew to nearly 900 members.  Carthage remained there 40 years and while there wrote a Rule for the community and was consecrated bishop.  Due to the “envy of some clergymen or monks of a neighbouring district” the prince of that area expelled Carthage and his monks in 630. (Lanigan p. 352-3)

The expulsion from Rathen was due in large part to the political climate in what is now Westmeath.  During the time of Carthage the Eoghanacht of Munster and the Ui Neill of Central Ireland were expanding.  Rathen was in ancient Mide (the middle kingdom) and in the orbit of the Ui Neill.  It was, however close to the northern reach of the Eoghanacht and Carthage was a Munsterman.  It was not acceptable to the Ui Neill to have what could be a Munster outpost in Ui Neill territory.  (Ryan)

By 633, a son-in-law to Failbhe Fland (King of Munster) granted him land on which the Lismore monastery was established.  Carthage died just 4 years after the establishment of the monastery in the year 637.  (Lanigan p. 353)

The Cross 

The cross at Lismore is a cross head that is imperforate and ringed.  It was found during excavations at Lismore Cathedral and is attached to the interior of the west wall.  There is an inscription across the arms that reads  “Prayer for Cormac P”.  The cross is a little over 6 and 1/2 inches high by about 7 and 1/2 inches wide.  See the photo above.  (Harbison, 1992, Vol. 2, Fig. 454)  The whole cross was probably less than 2 feet in height.


The Lismore Crozier

The National Museum of Ireland, in Dublin, has a crozier found in the Lismore Cathedral in the early 19th century.  It is dated to about 1100, the period of church reform in Ireland.  In the competition between major monasteries to become episcopal centers, various treasures were commissioned to reinforce their claims for authority.

The museum website describes the crozier as follows:  “It is formed of a wooden staff decorated with sheet bronze, spacer knops, and surmounted by a cast copper-alloy crook.  The crook is cast in a single piece and is hollow apart from a small reliquary which was inserted in the drop.  Both sides of the crook are decorated with round studs of blue glass with red and white millefiori insets.  Three animals with open jaws form the crest of the crozier, and these terminate in an animal head with blue glass eyes.  An inscription at the base of the crook records the name of Neachtain, the craftsman who made the crozier, along with the Bishop of Lismore, who commissioned it.”  (http://www.museum.ie/en/exhibition/list/ten-major-pieces.aspx?article=933dffe0-8d17-4347-bccb-ff5daeb8b861 November, 2015)

Getting There:  Located along the N72 between Dungarvan and Fermoy.  The Saint Carthage Cathedral (Church of Ireland) is located on the north side of town.

Resources Cited:

CELT:  Corpus of Electronic Texts:  http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T100004/index.html, November 2015.

County Waterford:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lismore,_County_Waterford, November 2015.

Harbison, Peter; "The High Crosses of Ireland:  An Iconographical and Photographic Survey", Dr. Rudolf Habelt GMBH, Bonn, 1992.  Volume 1:  Text, Volume 2:  Photographic Survey

History of Lismore:  http://www.lismore-ireland.com/about-us/history-of-lismore, November 2015.

Lanigan, John, An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, 1923. 

Lismore Castle:  www.lismorecastle.com, November 2015.

National Museum of Ireland, Archeology, Dublin:  http://www.museum.ie/en/exhibition/list/ten-major-pieces.aspx?article=933dffe0-8d17-4347-bccb-ff5daeb8b861 November, 2015

Ryan, John, S.J., Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae, http://omniumsanctorumhiberniae.blogspot.com/2013/05/saint-carthage-of-lismore-may-14.html, November 2015.

 Barney McLaughlin 2012