Once St. Patrick converted the Irish from pagan to Christian, they went all in with their new religion, but they didn't forget the old one. The Celtic cross combines the Celtic circle, representing the sun and moon, and the cross, representing Christ. We visited several places with amazing Celtic crosses, notably the monastic ruins at Glendalough and Monasterboice.
St. Kevin's cross was carved from a single piece of stone.
It's said that if you can wrap your arms around it, all your wishes will come true. Let's see...
Monasterboice features the tallest crosses in Ireland. First, take a look at Muiredach's Cross, which is covered with carvings of Bible stories. The Old Testament is one side; the New Testament is on the other. It was carved in the 10th century and is named after the abbot, Muiredach mac Domhnaill. It's the second tallest cross in Ireland.
The tallest cross, at 21 feet high, is the West Cross. You can see that the bottom of the cross is worn away a bit; our guide Martin told us that people who were about to leave Ireland for America would chip a piece off so that they would have a reminder of home. Apocryphal? Perhaps, but it's a lovely romantic story.
The Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick is said to have kindled his fire in defiance of King Laoghaire, has these two crosses, looking out over the village.
Of course, there are thousands more across Ireland - majestic, sacred memorials to those lying underneath, telling the stories of the Christian God, and honoring the ancient Celtic Gods.