Kilfenora East (Doorty) Cross High Cross




N 52° 59' 26.7"   W 009° 13' 00.42"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 18308 94028

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Friday 16 June 2017

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The old and roofless church seen from the southeast.

Since our first visit to this cathedral and crosses, on May 14th, 2000, many things have changed.
The roofless north transept of the cathedral has been given a new acrylic glass roof and many of the crosses have been moved under this new roof for protection.
Though the aspect of the cathedral has undoubtedly received a serious blow, also undoubtedly the crosses have received a great advantage.
The crosses that have received shelter under the new roof are the following.

Doorty Cross
This cross was repaired and restored in 1955, when the head which was in the chancel of the cathedral and the shaft which had been used as a tombstone for the 18th century Doorty family tomb were reunited.
The cross, dating to the 12th century, is now at the centre of the north transept, is aligned east-west, and has a solid wheel.
The west face of the head shows the figure of a bishop with a conical mitre and a crozier in his left hand. Angels rest on his shoulders. On the same side of the shaft there are two ecclesiastics. One of them holds a typical crozier, the other one holds a Tau crozier. They push their croziers in the back of a winged creature that, in turn, rests on two human figures. This scene should represent the advent of the new European reforms within the Irish Church in the 12th century.
The east face of the head shows a crucifixion with a bird in each hollow. At the base of the shaft there's a shingled roof of a building surmounted by a horse whose horseman holds and lifts an elaborate pattern of Scandinavian-style interlace which develops up along the height of the shaft.
The minor sides of the shaft bear figures of ecclesiastics and other ornaments typical of the 12th century.
The cross has been set in a modern brushed steel socket. The cross alone is 2.79 metres tall, 52 centimetres wide at the base. The head is 65 centimetres wide at the arms. The shaft is 21.5 centimetres thick at the base.

The North Cross
The North Cross, so called because it was found in the northwest corner of the adjacent graveyard, travelled through the centuries with little damages. It doesn't have a ringed head. It has short arms with circular hollows at the armpits. The face that is now facing north has a boss in the centre of the head, the other side has knots patterns. The shaft is undecorated but in origin it might have had painted ornaments.
The cross stands in a recess in the southeast corner of the north transept, it is 2.06 metres tall, 43 centimetres wide at the base, 72.5 centimetres wide at its arms and 16 centimetres thick.

The South Cross
This is just a broken segment of a cross shaft, dating to the late 11th century or early 12th century. The cross was standing at the south doorway in the nave, hence the name. It has interlaced patterns at the top of the segment and two spirals in the bottom corners.
It's in the northwest corner of the north transept, it's 1.81 metres tall, 67 centimetres wide at the base and 22.5 centimetres thick.

The Shaft Fragment
This sad shaft fragment is now aligned north-south in the northeast corner of the north transept. It was found in the Cathedral grounds during the work in the 1950's. The south side shows knots patterns, the other side is decorated with fretwork motifs. The lower part of the shaft has been reconstructed with a modern block of stone.
The total height of the shaft is now 1.18 metres. It is 49.5 centimetres wide and 16.5 centimetres thick.

A cross was moved to Killaloe from Kilfenora in 1821 and now it's on display in the St. Flannan's Cathedral in Killaloe.

The Kilfenora cathedral itself is worth mentioning. The present building was erected between 1189 and 1200 and replaced an earlier building probably built in the 10th century. It's dedicated to St. Flannan who founded an abbey on this site in the 6th century. The chancel to the east (90°) is now foofles, the nave has been restored and has a roof.
The entrance to the nave is through a Gothic doorway over which there's a carved head of a bishop wearing a mitre. Past this doorway, in the porch there are two tomb slabs. One with the effigy of a bishop wearing a mitre and with a crozier in his left hand, while his right hand is raised in the act of blessing. This slab may date to the late 13th or early 14th century. The other slab bears the effigy of a nobleman in an elegant clothing generally used by people of the upper classes at the end of the 14th century. The figure has both his hands on his chest and he seems to be holding a book.
Another standing slab, probably from the late 13th or early 14th century, depicts a bishop with a crozier in his left hand and the usual raised right hand in blessing.
The chancel is roofless, but it contains interesting details. The east window has three lights with elegant mouldings and carved figures on the capitals of the two columns.
In the north wall of the chancel is a three-bay sedilia with a wonderful tracery. One of the columns of the sedilia has been recently replaced with a modern element. Above the tracery there's another mitred head of a bishop. In the south wall there is a double piscina and an ambry.
There are many grave slabs and memorials on the floor and in the walls of the chancel. On one of the panel of a memorial there's the date 1650!

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