Why the Cross Was Made

Background to the construction of the Cross of Cong.

The Cross of Cong

According to the Annals of Tigernach, the “Cross of Christ” or True Cross was brought to Ireland in 1123

It was displayed in different places around Ireland.

Tairdelbach Ua Chonchobair (Turlough O'Conor), king of Connacht and high king of Ireland, asked for part of the Cross to be kept in Ireland. O’Conor commissioned a shrine to be made for this fragment. The shrine was made in Roscommon.

  • The Cross of Cong is such a magnificent treasure that by having it made O'Conor was displaying his wealth and power
  • The True Cross was probably sent by Pope Callistus II to O'Conor as king of Ireland – by being given a fragment to keep, O'Conor could claim that the Pope recognised him as king of Ireland
  • He was acting as a patron of the church
  • The Cross of Cong is a processional cross that would be carried before an archbishop – O'Conor was claiming that Connacht should have its own archbishop, which it did not have at that time
  • By patronising the church in this way, he could expect support from the church for his political ambitions.