|Tom and Kieran at the "Cross of Muiredach"|
In this blog we'll take you to "Monasterboice" which is one of the oldest religious sites and focus on the "Cross of Muriedach, which has become a famous symbol for Ireland.
What's interesting is that its in a graveyard that is "off the beaten path" from tours, but our tour guide and driver, Kieran Cathcart of Tour Dublin took us to this amazing place.
Since there was so much to see and take note of, we're going to quote the "Tour Dublin" website description here: This small area contains the ruins of two churches, a Round Tower, a pre-gothic sundial and three High Crosses.
|lots of smaller crosses in the graveyard|
|Monasterboice or "Mainistir Bhuithe" (in Gaelic)|
WHERE DID THE NAME COME FROM? This area was founded in the 6th century by St. Buite, and the monastery became a great seat of learning. So, the monastery was named for the founder, Mainistair Bhuithe (monastery of Buite). According to Boyne Valley.com: "St. Buite was an Irish monk and follower of St. Patrick, it is said that in 480, St. Buite on a return trip from Rome raised Nechtan Morbet, the King of Pictland (Scotland), from the dead."
This place is most famous for its three High Crosses, one of which is the focus of this blog!
WHAT IS A "HIGH CROSS"? - According to Boyne Valley Tours.com, "High Crosses" can be found in both Britain and Ireland, but they are more numerous—and much more finely carved—in Ireland. Over 300 survive in Ireland.High crosses are tall (18 feet and even higher) and have a "ringed crosshead" - that is the top of the cross surrounded by a stone ring. That decorated ring or wheel actually supports the weight of the center and the cross' extended arms. It also brings a touch of Celtic spirituality to the Christian form, reminding us of the cycles of seasons and of the cycle of life and death and rebirth—and of unity and perfection.
|The Cross of Muiredach|
This carving is almost 18 feet tall. The crosses were used to educate the illiterate people as the monks would stand and point to scenes on the cross and tell their stories from the bible.
NOTE ABOUT TOPS OF THE CROSSES: Two more minor points about the crosses. At the top of the crosses are small house-shaped structures. These are believed to be a reference to the reliquaries which would contain the physical remains of a saint. Also, when the crosses were new, they would have been brightly painted which would have caused them to really stand out in the landscape.
NOW AN IRISH SYMBOL- Because these crosses are mostly found in Ireland, they've become a symbol of Irish cultural heritage.
|Kieran at monastery ruins and the Cross of Muiredach|
NEXT: MONASTERBOICE'S FAMOUS "ROUND TOWER"