Ray Cross




N 55° 08' 50.4"   W 008° 04' 14.5"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

B 95544 33356

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Saturday 4 June 2011

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruined church as seen from the southeast. From this point of view the cross isn't visible yet.

Two interesting things at the same site, so I had to choose which of the two I had to dedicate the page to, and I decided for the cross, because it's much more peculiar than the church where it is in.
Anyway I'll start off with the church, which is quite plain, measures about 15 metres in length and 7 metres in width.
It has 4 windows on the south wall and a doorway on the west end. Another doorway was on the east wall but it's been walled up. It's a bit unusual to find a doorway to the east rather than a window.
Parts of the original plaster can still be seen on the inner faces of the walls.
The tradition has it that a first church was built at this site in the 6th century by St. Fíonán.
The present church is much more recent. Historic reports say that Cromwell's troops attacked the church on a Sunday morning while the mass was held and slaughtered the whole congregation. This is known as Marfach Raithe (The Massacre of Ray). The dead were buried two hundred metres from the church at a place called Lag na gCnámh (Resting Place of the Bones).
Against the north wall of the church a very tall cross has been mounted and propped with some steel brackets.
Like the church, the cross is plain and undecorated, but what is really impressive are its dimensions. It's been cut out of a single thin stone slab allegedly from a quarry in Muckish Mountain, and though it may seem fragile, it came to our days. It seems that the cross had been requested by St. Colmcille for his monastery in Tory Island, but he gave it to St. Fíonán.
It's 5.85 metres tall and 62 centimetres wide at the shaft. The stone is only 15 centimetres thick, and this makes of this cross a miracle of stone cutting. The arms are 2.12 metres wide.
The cross stands on a base which is 83 centimetres high. The cross thus towers at about 6.70 metres, and it's taller than the church walls.
Anyway the top of the cross shows a crack, the result from being knocked down during a storm in 1750. The cross stayed on the ground until 1970's when the OPW repaired it.
At the feet of the cross are three millstones.
Outside the west doorway, at 7 metres southwest (250°), there's what it seems a stone basin or a bullaun stone.
From here Tory Island to the north and Mount Errigal to the south are visible.

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