Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moone High Cross

What passes as a "Celtic Cross" has been used so much in this country as monument, national emblem and trademark that we forget how interesting, varied and impressive the real thing is. A person needs now and then to actually visit one of the many High Crosses (the correct term) which still exist all over the country.

Last week I drove on the N9 through Kildare and took the time to stop and visit the High Cross at Moone. Moone, north of Castledermot (which also has High Crosses), is now bypassed but it is well signposted. The cross here has been well maintained and as well as being one of the finest examples is also one of the more unusual ones. At 5.5 metres in height, it is the second highest cross in Ireland.

There can be controversy as to the dates of these crosses but it appears that most High Crosses were erected in the ninth and tenth centuries.

The Moone cross is in granite and is made up of a number of pieces. The faces are covered with abstract patterns and fabulous animals and narrative scenes from the bible or the lives of saints.

The picture shows two sides of the base with Children in the Fiery Furnace, the Flight into Egypt, the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, Adam and Eve, the Sacrifice of Isaac and Daniel in the Lions' Den.

Recently I met Drogheda-born poet Susan Connolly at a poetry reading in Kells. Her latest collection Forest Music has a small section of poems based on the Cross of Muiredach at Monasterboice, Co Louth. These are "visual poems" where the shape of the poem becomes an image itself relating to the topic. For instance the first poem in the series has the words arranged in the shape of the cross. Review here.

No comments: