North Cross Ahenny, Co. Tipperary
Plaster-of-Paris Replica SA1909:5
Between 1898 and 1908 Col. G. T. Plunkett, Director of the then Dublin Museum of Science and Art (which later became the National Museum of Ireland) commissioned reproductions of a number of Irish artefacts, including some High Crosses.
These included two crosses from Ahenny because of their exceptional carving and highly decorative panels.
The plaster casts of the Ahenny Crosses were made in 1906 by a London-based Italian modeller, Sig. Orlandi.
The Original Cross
The North Cross is one of two high crosses from Ahenny, Co. Tipperary. It is representative of the early series of cross manufacture, which relies on abstract non-figurative art, and is probably based on crosses of wood or metal. It can perhaps be dated to the ninth century. The Ahenny crosses belong to a group of crosses characterized by their artistic links to Hiberno-Saxon art, their unique conical capstones and the division of the wheel arch into two vertical panels. Decorated with interlace, ‘nailheaded’ bosses, spiral decoration and animal heads, the carving on the North Cross is the finest of its group.
Figure sculpture is only found on the base. The scenes depicted may be interpreted as:
God with outstretched hands naming animals (east face)
Goliath’s headless body being escorted to Jerusalem (south face)
The risen Christ sending his apostles on their mission (west face)
A scene of a chariot procession (north base)