Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cross of Muiredach, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland

In Galway, at the Clannagh Jewellers I bought the splendidly detailed and carved Ogham designs gold cross of Muiredeach.  I’d already bought a Gold Mura Cross from Faller’s Jewellers in Londonderry. These were to replace the gold Celtic Cross which had great sentimental value and some hundreds of dollars gold value when it was stolen from me by Moslem muggers calling me infidel in the streets of Athens.  Now here I was able to not only get a new gold cross better crafted with greater detail actually made in Ireland but one that was also a  true replica of a real Celtic high cross pf Muiredach.  Of course, after Laura and my adventure finding the Mura Cross itself in Fahan village, we planned another adventure.
Monasterboice where the cross was said to reside was north of Dublin near Drogheda. After going to mass at St. Peter's in Drogheda and visiting the Battle of Boyne site we drove on to Monasterboice. Thankfully there were easy to follow signs. We didn't have the quite adventure  though we had finding St. Mura's grave.  Monasterboice would be our last spiritual pilgrimage in Ireland.  It was a beautiful and sacred place where Laura and I felt close to each other and close to our God.
One of the main permanent Viking centres was made eight miles from Monasterboice at Annagassan on the Louth Coast in AD 840. It was from here that the Vikings plundered Clonmacnoise in 841. Yet they never plundered Monasterboice. The Muiredach Cross actually has a couple of Viking like characters suggesting that some Vikings may have become Christians and monks explaining why the Monastery was not plundered.
Monasterboice was founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buithe. At the site there are two churches from the 14th century and an earlier 35 meter tall round tower.  The Cross  of Muiredeach is named after the abbott who reigned from 887 -924 and is featured in the carvings.
Irish High Crosses by Peter Harbison is an excellent resource to all the high crosses.  The East Face of the Muiredach's Cross shows the last judgement at the cross, and the Crucifixion and Ressurection on the West Face,  Each plate has a story from the bible and these are laid out easy to follow in Peter Harbison’s excellent book.  It was fun to read this guide looking at the actual cross and seeing what each plate represented.   I can actually see these plates in detail with a magnifying glass on my little gold cross. It’s humbling to consider the artistry of the original and that of  today.
Beside the Muiredach Cross there was another old high cross which was just like the silver cross I’d bought Laura at Faller’s Jewelry in Londonderry. Laura thought this so special.  There was a further Tall or West Cross near the Round Tower. At over 7 meters or 21 feet high it’s the tallest high cross in the country.
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