The Nethercross

The Nethercross is an old cross carved out of granite. It was made to look like the cross that St Canice, the patron saint of Finglas and Kilkenny carried with him.

This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.

The Nethercross

If you have ever visited St Canice’s Graveyard in Finglas you might have noticed an old stone cross there. This cross is called the Nethercross. Nether means ‘lower’ and the area around Finglas and Ballymun was once called the Barony of Nethercross.

The Nethercross was carved out of granite, to look like the cross which St Canice, the patron saint of Finglas and Kilkenny, had carried with him. St Canice lived in the sixth century, and is patron saint of Ossory and Kilkenny.

The Nethercross used to stand in the grounds of Finglas Abbey but in the seventeenth century it disappeared. It took almost two hundred years to find it again. This is how it happened: In 1649 Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland. He did not like the Catholic religion and his army destroyed churches, shrines and statues. The people of Finglas were worried that Cromwell’s soldiers would destroy the Nethercross. They took it down and buried it in a secret place.

The Nethercross was forgotten until a man named the Reverend Robert Walsh joined the parish of Finglas in 1806. He had a deep interest in history and he was determined to find the lost cross. Reverend Walsh met an old man who had been told by his grandfather where the Nethercross was buried. With his help, Reverend Walsh found the cross in 1816. The Nethercross was erected in the south-east corner of the ancient graveyard of St Canice’s where it still stands today.

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