Kilfenora

Kilfenora, meaning “Church of the Fertile hillside or Church of the White brow”,  is a small village in County Clare  just south of The Burren National Park.  Kilfenora Cathedral, which is partly in ruins, dates from the 12th century and three high crosses from the site have recently been conserved and are now in display in the reroofed transept; amongst them the Doorty Cross.    I found an interesting description of the Doorty cross: 

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“This is a 12th century cross and includes the carvings of the original bishop of Kilfenora, Saint Fachtnan. On each shoulder stands a birdlike creature or angel with pointed wings, and humanlike faces reclining into the arms of the cross. The figure is in long attire with a tall conical cap, suggested to be a tiara as was worn by the eleventh and twelfth century Popes. He holds a rolled headed crook in his left hand turned outwards, which is a sign of jurisdiction. His right hand with two outstretched fingers pointing downwards, imparting a direction to the two figures underneath. The two figures of clerics are linked arm-in-arm, the figure on one’s left holds, with his two hands, a crook-headed crozier of Irish type, while the other cleric, again with his two hands, holds a tua-crozier. The croziers held by these two clerics are driven into a large bird beneath their feet. This bird is standing on two distressed-looking heads and picking with his beak one of the heads. These figures seem to be fighting off the bird, and it is suggested they are holding a small bag in their hands, perhaps money bags.”

Still another explanation indicated that the cross features three bishops:  the bishop at the top represents the Roman church, with the two underneath representing the Coptic and Celtic church.

The Kilfenora site is another site that you will drive right by unless you know to look for it.  I had read about it in a travel guide, so went out of my way to find it.  Kilfenora is a tiny village, barely a stop along the highway with a few shops.  The Cathedral is on a side street, and there is no signage.  The high crosses have been place inside the ruins, and an artificial roof of steel and glass placed over head.  The glass in the roof had some strange kind of polarizing effect as the sun passed through it, which made for some odd patterns in the photos.

 

 

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