Drumcliffe Church with Tower and High Cross

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Nestled below Benbulben Mountain in the picturesque village of Drumcliffe, St Colmcille founded a monastery in the 6th Century. Although the monastery seems to have been well known from the 9th to the 16th century, the only remains today are three High Crosses and the stump of a round tower. The crosses are in a graveyard on the grounds of a former abbey. Adjacent to the ancient graveyard is a road leading to the early 19th century St. Columba’s Church of Ireland and the final resting place of the poet William Butler Yeats (1865–1939). The highly decorated cross pictured to the right is of sandstone and may date from the 11th century. This High Cross stands at 3.83 metres and both the east and west side feature animals in high relief. On the west face the subjects include the Presentation in the Temple and the Crucifixion. The east face bears Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Daniel in the Lions’ Den and a Lion in high relief. At the head is possibly Christ in Glory. The stonemason seems to have portrayed a camel on the cross which is an unusual feature. The narrow edges are also richly carved with ornament and figure carving. The south side of the shaft features the only icon of the Virgin and Child on an Irish High Cross.

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