Irish High Crosses
Late Medieval Cross
We were so delighted to have finally visited the monastic site situated on Devenish Island. One of the main reasons for visiting was to photograph the beautifully carved 15th century medieval cross. I have included this cross even though it is not a typical high cross and later than most of the crosses featured. It stands at 2.25 metres tall is beautifully carved with a very intricate design on the upper shaft. St Molaise, also known as St Laserian, founded a monastery here in the 6th century. Also present on the island is a wonderful 25 metre tall round tower dating to the 12th century. The tower bears romanesque features and is accessible to the public. Two of the remaining churches on the island also date to the romanesque period. The first of these is the 13th century Teampull Mor. Sadly, only the lower part of the second church, a 12th century romanesque oratory remains. Known as St Molaise's House, it may have been a tomb shrine that housed the relics of St Molaise.
There is also a 15th century Augustinian Priory just up the hill passed the round tower. There is a modern building on the left as you approach the island. This is a small but quite enjoyable museum, with some interesting carved fragments from the churches on the island. The island is privately owned and only accessible during the months listed below.
An article by W.F.Wakeman in 1889 suggests the base and shaft maybe a monument raised in honour of Bartholomew O'Flannagan, the Prior of Devenish when the new priory church was built in 1449. This memorial cross pillar has similarities to the Dowdall memorials erected in Meath some 150 years later. Wakeman also suggested the ill fitting head may have terminated the eastern gable of the new church before being placed upon the memorial pillar. The style of the carving on the head matches the carving at the top of the doorway in the northern chancel wall. It is not unusual for monastic buildings to bear carvings representing the Prior or abbot of a monastery. The mask pictured above, at the top of the head, may represent Bartholomew O'Flannagan. On the east side of the shaft is a crucifixion, pictured below left. The head/mask, pictured below right, is carved on the south side of the shaft.
South side mask
Situated: An island on Lower Lough Erne, County Fermanagh From Enniskillen take the A32 north At Trory take a left turn down to the pier. There is a small fee to pay for the boat trip. Open April to September.
Discovery OS 17. Map: H 224 469.
Last Visit: August 2010
Photos: Jim Dempsey and José Gutiérrez.
Nearest High Crosses featured on this web site.
Boho High Cross: 11 Kilometres W.
White Island Figures: 14 Kilometres N.
Lisnaskea High Cross: 19 Kilometres SE.
Boa Island Carved Figures: 21 Kilometres N.
Clones High Cross: 35 Kilometres SE.
|Ref: Wakeman, W. F. “On an Ancient Sculptured Cross, and Monumental Slab, Devenish Island, Lough Erne, County Fermanagh.” The Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, vol. 9, no. 81, 1889, pp. 295–299. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25506562.