Muiredach’s Cross, Monasterboice, Co. Louth

Muiredach's Cross

Plaster-of-Paris replica SA1909:2

Muiredach’s Cross, cast in 1896, was the first of the High Crosses from which moulds were taken. Sig. Orlandi took five weeks to complete the casting, at a cost of £59.11s.10d. Casts were sent to The Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Requests for casts also came from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Irish Industrial Exposition, New York (1905) and the London Franco-British exhibition (1908). In 1903 His Eminence Cardinal Moran, Sydney, Australia requested a copy of the ‘Great Cross of Monasterboice’. John Deghini & Son were awarded the contract for the casting, finish and painting of the cross and the cast was shipped to Australia at a cost of £46.10.

Original Cross

Muiredach's Cross Original

Muiredach’s Cross dates to the ninth century and is regarded as the finest example of crosses depicting scriptural scenes. The cross derives its name from the Irish inscription on the west face of the base:


Prayer for Muiredach who had the cross erected

Figure sculpture

The east face displays (from head to base):

• St Paul and St Anthony defeating the devil

• Christ seated in heaven

• Christ and the Last Judgement

• St Michael weighing the souls

• The three Magi or Wise men at the birth of Christ

• Moses drawing water from the rock

• David departing from Saul (left) and David defeating Goliath (right)

• Adam and Eve (left) and Cain slaying Abel (right)

• Unidentified scene of lions, centaur and two kneeling figures

The west face displays (from head to base)

• Christ ascending to heaven

• The crucifixion of Christ

• The scenes on the arms show Peter denying knowledge of Christ

(left) and the resurrection of Christ (right)

• Christ giving St. Peter a key and St. Paul a book

• Christ risen from the dead

• The second mocking of Christ

The south base shows a scene of a horseman and an angel and a second scene of a huntsman. Pilate washing his hands is depicted on the end of the south arm.

The north base displays a hunting scene.

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