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Concern over safety of Muiredach's Cross

Article from the Drogheda Leader, May 12th, 2004

CONCERNS have been raised about the future safety of one of Ireland's most famous historical monuments, Muiredach's Cross at Monasterboice, by a local group.

The Monasterboice Tour Guides open day at the famous monastic site on the recent Bank Holiday Monday highlighted the lack of protection afforded to the 10th Century High Cross. Tour Guides chairperson Barry McGahon told the Drogheda Leader, "The cross is not well protected at all and is exposed to all possibilities."

Barry McGahon with Muiredach's Cross

Barry McGahon describes the panels on Muiredach's Cross. Click for bigger pic.

He revealed, "We are being constantly asked by people taking part in our tours 'Why isn't it being protected?'"

As an immediate and cost effective solution Mr. McGahon suggested putting in railings around the cross as a temporary measure to protest it from being interfered with.

In addition, he has also drawn a question over the effects the opening of the new M1 motorway is having and will continue to have on the cross. He said, "I'm sure the hundreds and thousands of vehicles using the motorway every year will have an effect on the cross in the form of acid rain and pollution. The cross didn't have to cope with this back in the 10th Century."

"I've also noticed recently when it gets wet it takes longer to dry out. I'm not an expert in this field but it seems the rain has been seeping into the cross lately and this cannot be good for it."

Muiredeach's Cross dates back to the 10th century when it was built in honour of an abbot that lived in the monastic site at around that time. The cross was built for education purposes, not for decoration, to teach the 3,000 inhabitants living in the area at the time about the bible through its 62 carvings depicting stories from the Old and New Testament.

Muiredach's Cross at night

Muiredach's Cross at night. Click for larger version.

People travel from all parts of the world to see and hear about one of the most important Celtic crosses in Ireland.

The area is of significant interest to French tourists who each year come to see the tower. Above one of the doorways of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is an almost exact copy of the judgement scene from Muiredach's Cross.

Mr. McGahon explained, "I met a college lecture recently from UCD who spent four hours taking about the cross to over 40 French teachers. He was amazed that the cross was not being protected."

The Monasterboice Tour Guides are currently looking for new volunteers to join their group. Anyone with an interest in the Monasterboice area and with a few hours to spend each week can contact Barry McGahon on 087 2697369.

 

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