Ahenny High Crosses
At a Glance
County Tipperary
OS Map 75
OS Coordinate S 414 291
 
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Ahenny High Crosses Co. Tipperary

South Cross

North Cross

Ahenny High Crosses
County Tipperary
O.S. Map 75

Location: In Ahenny, County Tipperary, near the Kilkenny border. From Carrick-on-Suir take the R 697 north approximately six kilometers. Turn a left at Scrogh Bridge then take the next right. Travel about two kilometers down this road to just past the church. Park at the church and the crosses (well sign-posted) are in a walled churchyard across a field. Not far from the Kilkieran crosses (within a couple of kilometers)

Dimensions: North cross 3.65 meters tall. South cross 3.35 meters tall

Features: The two sandstone Ahenny crosses are impressive and both date from the 8th to 9th century, among the earliest of the ringed high crosses. These crosses reproduce in stone what would have been patterns in earlier wooden crosses, complete with patterns that mimic the metalwork that held the wooden cross together. While later high crosses concentrated on biblical scenes, these earlier crosses carried intricate interlace designs on almost every surface. Only the bases carry any panels with figure carving which is considerably worn and difficult to make out. Many interpretations of these carvings have been proposed. The north cross base is said to carry scenes of (north) a procession with a chariot, (south) a funeral procession with a cleric holding a processional cross followed by a horse bearing a headless body which is being attacked by ravens and a man carrying the head which is seen full face, (east) Adam naming the animals and (west) the mission of the apostles and/or the Seven Bishops (apparently a local tradition). The base of the south cross is worn beyond most recognition. It is said to depict (north) hunting scenes, (east on the left) Daniel in the Lion's Den and (south on left) The Fall of Man. Another odd feature of these crosses are the removable cap stones known as miters (bishop's hats).

Comments: Jim Dempsey's site has some very good information and photographs of these beautiful early crosses. Legend has it that if the miters are removed from the cross and placed on one's head, they will cure headaches. Considering the weight of these stone caps, it can be imagined that the relief in removing them would certainly cause any headache to disappear.

History: Monastic site of Kilclispeen, or the church of St. Crispen.

  © 2006 F.J. & K.D. Schorr - All rights reserved.