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Kilkerian High Crosses, Co. Kilkenny
Location: Very close to the Kilkenny/Tipperary border, approximately six kilometers NNE of Carrick-on-Suir.
From N24 in Carrick-on-Suir, take R697 north to R698 east (5.5 to 6 km). Turn right (east) on R698. The graveyard
where the crosses are located is approximately 300 meters on the right from the intersection. There is ample parking
and the lane down to the graveyard from the entrance gate is well paved.
Dimensions and Features: The NORTH (or tall) cross is unlike any other cross found in Ireland being 3.5 meters high with
very short cross arms and a circular base. There are hatched mouldings on the west face above and below the cross arms.
Shallow grooves decorate the wide faces of the shaft. A tenon remains on the top, though whether it held a
miter-like cap similar to the other crosses is impossible to know. The EAST (or plain) cross is approximately
2.8 meters high and like the Ahenny crosses are of the Western Ossory group (8th to 9th century), with mouldings and a
central boss that mimic metalwork in stone, a heavy miter-like crown, but otherwise without decoration. The WEST (or decorated) cross is is 3.8
meters high and also of the Ossory group with a miter-like crown at its top. It is completely ornamented with
interlace along the shaft and arms with the exception of a panel on the west face with four long-necked beasts with a
small equal-armed cross in the center. The base of this cross includes two chrysanthemum motifs on the N. face at the bottom of
the left panel and the interlace on the right panel here has unusual imperfections. The E. face of the base contains two
panels, each with four horsemen. The W. face of the base has the center of the three panels containing five swirls in
a geometric arrangement. All three of these crosses are composed of sandstone. A fragment of what appears to be a
cross shaft contains geometric swirling patterns as well as floral and rectangular decoration.
Comments: The graveyard in which the ancient crosses stand is very well tended and the surrounding
countryside is quite beautiful and serene despite it's proximity to regional roads. Much of the carving on the crosses
is now covered with moss and lichen, making it difficult to trace (see the pattern).
History: The little cemetery in Faheen (Kilkieran) is noteworthy, not simply for its early Irish High Crosses,
but for the manner in which it was restored in the mid 19th century. Local history says that the major beauty,
the great High Cross, had been smashed and spread over the ground
in an outrage of iconoclasm but the remnants were collected, chip by chip, splinter by splinter, and restored to
today's stature by a blind stonemason from Faheen named Paddy Laurence, who had lost his sight while engaged in the
building of the House of parliament in London. .
Other Items of Interest: In addition to these marvelous crosses and fragments, a phallic-shaped standing stone is featured
near the far wall of the graveyard toward St. Kieran's well. Along the base of this wall are found what appears to
be a small holed grinding stone and several bullaun stones. Another bullaun is incorporated into the wall at St.
Kieran's holy well as a font for the cure of headaches. Near the decorated cross is what appears to be a stone
row anchored by cement and by the wall near the entrance to the cemetery is an unusually named "Stranger's Corner",
presumably an area reserved for the burial of unknowns or paupers.