Monasterboice; the finest High Cross in Ireland
Monasterboice, near Drogheda, was founded in the 5th century by St. Buite, one of St. Patrick's original followers. Today the impressive set of ruins contains a graveyard, two churches, a sundial and a round tower. The site is best known for its collection of High Crosses. There are three fine examples most notably the South Cross (or Cross of Muiredach) and the West Cross (or Tall Cross). These crosses depict stories from the Old and New Testament that would have been used to educate early Christians. This tradition is still alive today thanks to the local volunteers who will give you a detailed tour of the site and take you through the beautiful Bible scenes carved into these majestic crosses. These guides will also fill you in on the local beliefs behind the Crosses. The South Cross contains engravings of cats at the base, perhaps to entertain children. On one side of the cross head there is an image of a hand or the “Hand of God.” Local belief and tradition says that if you stand under the hand; God will answer your prayers. The West Cross is distinct for its excellently preserved head and damaged stem. It is believed that the head of the Cross may have been stored indoors for a period, preserving it as we see today. The missing pieces from the stem remain a mystery but locals believe that during the Great Famine migrating people use to take a chip of stone off the cross and carry it with them as a reminder of their Irish roots.