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Churches with Round Towers in Northern Clare by Thomas Johnson Westropp

The Termon Cross

The Termon Cross, of which the socket remains in a rock, 4 feet high, west of the road near Lemenagh Gate, was removed, I am informed, by Mr. O’Donnelan Blake-Foster, and kept in his house for many years. It is shaped like the head of a crutch, with beardless faces, looking towards each other, on the upper surfaces of the arms; between these are three raised welts or ridges running across the ‘saddle,’ from side to side, and 4 inches down each edge. It is only 3 feet high (2 feet above the socket), 2 feet 2 inches across the arms, and the shaft tapers from 11 inches to 5 inches broad, and is 5 inches thick. Mr. George D. Burtchaell has recently examined it, and kindly supplied me with a description and sketch, perfectly corroborating those of O’Curry in the Ordnance Survey Notes for Clare. He writes:—‘When I saw it on the 12th September last (1893), it was then in the hall at Ballykeel House. The present occupier had found it under some barrels in the yard, and had brought it into the house. The measurements are 2 feet 1 inch across the arms and 3 feet high. The heads are beardless, and covered with hoods. It is only by an intense stretch of imagination that the mouldings could be described as clasped hands. If the artist so intended he altogether failed to carry out the idea. I had a letter from Dean Copley a few days ago, in which he says that it is likely to be soon replaced on its original site.’

The Termon Cross
The Termon Cross

Despite of all this, Hely Dutton develops its ‘welts’ into clasped hands, with a legend to correspond;[12] and Mr. M. Keane, though a local man, unaccountably accepts the error, nay more (theory being a parent of invention), he finds by equally distorting a picture in ‘Bryant’ that the evolved device is a ‘Cuthite’ design, and the embodiment of a deep religious mystery. Well might O’Donovan and O’Curry, after seeing ‘where the hands were not,’ scout the notions of Dutton and his followers with energetic scorn—the whole being a surprising episode in the too abundant history of the fanciful in Irish archæology.


Kilnaboy Church and Round Tower


Rath Church and Round Tower