Longford Cross

Only one cross has been identified in County Longford.  It is at Abbeyshrule.  The location of County Leitrim is indicated by the red star on the map to the right.

Abbeyshrule Cross

The Site

The name Abbeyshrule derives from a combination of “Abbey”, referring to the Cistercian Abbey founded there about 1150 and the old Gaelis “sruth” meaning stream or river.  So the name refers to the Abbey on the River Inney.  (askaboutireland)

The history of the site is uncertain.  A Rev. MacGivney, writing in 1908 suggested that there was a monastery there in the late 9th century that was destroyed by the Danes.  The cross at the site may date to the late 8th or early 9th century and be a product of this monastery.

What is certain is that in the mid to late 12th century a Cistercian Abbey was established, perhaps as early as 1150, with the support of O’Farrell, prince of Annaly.  This Abbey was the fifth Cistercian abbey founded under the leadership of Mellifont.  It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  The ruins are from about 1200.  About 1228 the affiliation of the Abbey switched from Mellifont to Bective Abbey.  (moxhamireland)

The Cross

Crawford described the cross in 1924.  It stands to a height of 3 feet.  It is ringless and the arms are missing. 

East Face:  There is an incised cross on this face that covers the entire face and appears to have a ring.  See the photo below right.

West Face:  On the shaft is a plait of five strands.  On the head is a curious design formed by three concentric lines that has the appearance of a horseshoe.  (Crawford, p. 171)  Harbison describes the west head as having “a round boss in the centre, enclosed by two roll mouldings which expand outwards on the uppermost limb.”  (Harbison, 1992, p. 9)  Hence the horseshoe description by Crawford.  See the photo below left.

Sides:  One side bears vertical ribs (photo left), the other a meander pattern (photo right).  

Getting There:  See the Road Atlas page 34, E1.  The replica is located just south of Abbeyschrule at the Abbey.  It is located just beside the road.  The map is cropped from the Historic Envirnoment Viewer.

Resources Consulted

Crawford, Henry S., “Cross at Abbeyshrule, County Longford”, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Sixth Series, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Dec. 31, 1924), p. 171

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; Volume 3:  Illustrations of Comparative Iconography.

 Barney McLaughlin 2012