Sarsfieldstown Crosses

Barnewall Wayside Cross

Eight wayside crosses were erected in Meath around the beginning of the 15th century. Two of these crosses can be found in Sarsfieldstown Townland. The Barnewall Cross was erected by Elizabeth Plunkett, daughter of Sir Thomas Plunkett of Rathmore, as a memorial to her husband, Sir Christopher Barnewall. A Saint is sculptured on the N and S faces of the shaft, above a latin inscription. Inscriptions are also present on the other faces and also around the four sides of the base. The shaft and base are mounted on a three step plinth, see image left.

Pictured below L to R, are the West, South, East and South faces of the shaft. A reading taken from rubbings by FitzGerald reads; Octavianus archiepiscopus tocius hibernie primas, consessit unicuique penitenti devote dicenti pro animabus Cristofori Barnewale. The inscription on the base reads; militis et Elizabeth Plunkett, et omnium fidelium defunctorum, Pater Noster et Ave Maria tociens qouciens 30 dies indulgencie imperpetuum.

Translation:- Archbishop Octavian, Primate of all Ireland, has granted an indulgence of 30 days, in perpetuity, to everyone truly contrite, as often as they shall devoutly say an Our Father, and a Hail Mary, for the souls of Sir Christopher Barnewall and Elizabeth Plunkett, and all of the faithfully departed. Octavian was Archbishop of Armagh from 1480-1523. A stone, pictured below right, bearing part of a Coat of Arms, possibly Sarsfield, has been inserted into the west face of the plinth, it is the last piece of a triptych. An inscription across the three stones refers to , Sir John Bellew and his three wifes; Dame Margaret Plunkett, Ismay Nugent and Jenet Sarsfield. The other two stones are mounted on the east and west walls of Bellewstown House.

Situated: This Wayside cross is located in a clearing on the east side of the old R132 road about 6 kilometres south of Drogheda, about 100 metres north of the Applegreen garage in Sarsfieldstown.

Discovery Map 43. O 1519 6854. Last visit Aug 2018.

Longitude: 6° 15' 27" W

Latitude: 53° 39' 14" N

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

L-R, N. Face, Madonna and Child. E. Face, St Lawrence holding a grid iron, S. Face, Crucifixion, W. Face, St Matthew.

St Matthew or St James?

Keenoge Wayside Cross

The other Sarsfieldstown cross can be located about 350 metres west of the Barnewall monument. The cross is situated in the garden of a house, near the site of the old Keenoge Church. It appears to be the upper part of a shaft, mounted on a crude concrete base. Unlike the Barnewall cross it bears no inscription, but is highly decorated with an elaborate foliage design. Below the foliage a rectangular panel on each side, bears figure sculpture. In 1912, Lord Walter FitzGerald identified the figure sculpture, as shown in the image above. He identified the two figures on the side of the crucified Christ as the Blessed Mary Virgin and St John. He identified St Matthew, the Tax-gatherer, in the image shown left, bearing a staff and a satchel. St Matthew worked as a Tax-collector before following Christ. I think it represents St James the Great. St James is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims and is usually depicted carrying a pilgrims staff and satchel, and wearing a scallop shell on a pilgrims hat. The shell is associated with the pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago - the Way of St James.

Situated: From the Barnewall Cross on the east side of the R132, head west along the side road on the opposite side of the R132. The cross is in a garden, on the north side, about 350 metres down the road. Please ask for permission to view.

Discovery Map 43. O 1488 6852. Last visit Aug 2018.

Longitude: 6° 15' 44" W

Latitude: 53° 39' 14" N

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

Ref: Gerald, Walter Fitz. “The Barnewall Wayside Cross at Sarsfieldstown, County Meath.” The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. 2, no. 2, 1912, pp. 151–154. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25514227.

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