If you are visiting Dublin have have a day to spare, you could consider taking a trip up the coast to the town of Drogheda. During medieval times, Drogheda vied with Dublin to be the capital of English rule in Ireland. Strategically situated at the mouth of the River Boyne it is easy to appreciate how it grew to become a prosperous town of The Pale.
Just outside the town, the historic monastic ruins of Monasterboice are well worth a visit. The site has the remains of an early round tower and two 14th century church buildings, but is most famous for its stone Celtic Crosses. High crosses were decorated with biblical scenes and were used to convey Christ’s teachings to those who could not read.
Located near the round tower, the West cross, standing at 6.5m high, is Ireland’s tallest high cross. Located near the entrance to the site is the magnificent Muiredach’s Cross. Named for the Abbot mentioned in the inscription on the base: ‘A prayer for Muirdach for whom the cross was made.’ Standing 5.5m tall, it is certainly Ireland’s finest Celtic Cross.
The main sculpture on the circular head on the west face is an elaborate Crucifixion scene while on the eastern face there is an even more interesting and elaborate Last Judgement. The face of the shaft on the west side shows incidents in the Life of our Lord, incidents from the Old Testament, stories from the lives of the Saints and symbolic figures. However, the scenes on our High crosses are not confined to biblical and religious subjects only and there are scenes on the Muiredach Cross that are open to different interpretations. The scenes on the shaft of the cross are read from the bottom up. These are said to represent Christ seized in the Garden; The Incredulity of Thomas is said to be thrusting his hand into Our Lord’s side; and Christ seated between Peter and Paul, giving the keys to the one and The Book of the Gospel to the other.