St Mura’s Cross, Fahan. County Donegal      c. 7th or 8th century a. d.

St Mura’s Cross is located in an ancient monastic site in Fahan, county Donegal. This rare ‘slab’ type cross is generally believed to be the precursor to the typical Celtic Irish High Crosses that people associate with Ireland. The cross is carved on both sides with a broad interlaced ribbon design and has 2 figures and 2 birds and what appears to be an unusual Greek cross. The symbol of the bird is a common feature in early Christian art and its symbolism is usually associated with the resurrection. The Greek inscription of ‘The Gloria’ is a version that was sanctioned at the Council of Toledo in Spain in 633. This fact that the prayer is written in Greek is taken as evidence that a monk in residence was familiar with the Greek language and so this monastery had close links to the wider world of Christianity around the Mediterranean. St Mura lived in the 6th century and was a relative and disciple of St. Columba. He founded a monastery here for the ruling O’Neill dynasty who ruled from the nearby Grianan of Aileach.