18 April 2016 Monday afternoon
Our last destination before heading to Dunboyne Castle, where we would spend our last night in Ireland, was Monasterboice, an ancient ruin of a fifth century monastery established by St. Buithe. The name Monasterboice is a part-anglicization of the Irish name Mainistir Bhuithe meaning “monastery of Buithe”. There are the remains of two churches and a round tower, as well as three high crosses. The monastery, like many others, suffered attacks from the Vikings.
The round tower has the door at high level due to the deposit of soil over the passage of time; since the towers were built as protection during an attack, the doors were typically not built at ground level.
Our tour guide Jennifer had carefully researched the interpretations of the stories depicted on the high crosses and we visited each in turn as she described each cross to us. As described in an earlier post, the high crosses were carved with pictures of Bible stories so that the monks could describe the stories to their followers, many of whom could not read. The first cross, Muiredach’s cross is one of the finest high crosses in Ireland, according to one of my sources. The North and West crosses have suffered more damage due to the elements.