Pictured above is an early latin cross and the 15th century, ivy covered, bell tower.


Church, Crosses and Effigial Tombs

It was always believed that St John's Graveyard at Nobber was built on an early monastic site. During a clean up of the graveyard in 2004, six small latin crosses, three small high crosses and an unusual cross slab, all dating to around the 9th/10th century proved this theory to be correct. All of the latin crosses bear pecked linear or pecked ring crosses. Four examples of the early latin crosses are shown. The cross slab has probably been moved to a different location as we could not find it in the graveyard. I believe it is similar to some cross slabs found in the north west of Ireland. The sandstone slab bears a ringed cross with a deep hole in the centre of the transom, on either side of the shaft is a figure, similar to those at Carndonagh in Donegal and Inishkea North in Mayo.

Early latin cross

Early latin cross

Early latin cross

High cross base

High Crosses

Also present at the site, besides the three small high crosses, is a conical cross base. It is located in a corner of the graveyard wall, immediately inside the entrance. The decoration has almost completely worn away, but to see an example of the way it once appeared view the north cross at Kells monastery. It is believed to be carved by the same craftsman. The high cross shaft, below left, was once re-used a window jamb in the medieval church, but is now positioned upside down in the middle of the graveyard. The cross bears decoration. I hope to return to this site soon, to record the carvings, as the light was not good during this visit. I will also try to locate the other two small high crosses. I have since heard that one of the high crosses and an early cross slab have been removed from the site.

High cross shaft

Latin cross

Tomb Effigies

Standing upright on the south side of the path leading to the 18th century church is an effigial tomb slab. It was erected to the memory of Gerald Cruise of Brittas, and his wife Margaret Plunkett. The tomb slab, which originally lay in the choir of the medieval church, depicts a knight wearing full armour, including his spurs. Lying by his right hand-side is his sword. On each side of the head are the coat of arms of the Cruise and Plunkett families. A marginal inscription, in Roman capitals reads: HERE LIETH THE BODY / OF GERALD CRVS OF THE BRITTAS AND MARGARET PLVNKE / T HIS WIF WHICH GERRALD / DID BVILD THIS MONVMENT AND IS HEYRE LINEALLY DECE / NDED FROM SR MAURICE CR / VYS WHOE DYED THE FYRST YEARE OF KYNG HENRY / THE THYRD IN ANNO / DOMINI 1216 TO WHOSE SOVLES GOD GRANT HIS / MERCY AMEN 1619+.

Also present in the graveyard are two more effigil tomb slabs. Pictured below left is the Murtagh slab. It is believed to depict Murtagh Carolan, a parish priest at Nobber in the late 17th century.

The slab, pictured below right, shows a knight in armour, lying to his right is his sword and to the left is a female effigy. Between the effigies are mortality symbols and above them is a coat of arms. It bears a marginal inscription and is known as the Edward Balfe memorial. A stone head from the medieval church, see bottom image, has been built into the south wall of the 18th century church.

The Priest's tomb

Edward Balfe memorial slab

Situated: Travelling north on the R162 through the centre of Nobber, take the road by the south side of Keogan's Pub in the middle of the town.

Discovery Map 35. N 8237 8649. Last visit April 2017.

Longitude: 6° 44' 56" W

Latitude: 53° 49' 17" N

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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