2.1 An Chros Tau

Tory Tau cross © Alan Sproull

As you arrive in Tory the first site to greet you is the Tau Cross. Sitting high on a plinth, the T-shaped stone cross is a symbol of the island’s Christian heritage.

The cross is thought to date from early medieval times and is carved from one piece of mica slate stone. It is 1.9m tall and 1.1m wide. Mica slate isn’t found on the island so the cross was probably made elsewhere and brought to the island.

Local tradition says that in the 17th century one of Cromwell’s soldiers attempted to break the cross with his sword - an explanation of the two marks on the face of the cross... it is more likely that the marks occurred naturally.

The symbol of the tau cross dates from before Christian times and it was known and used by the Egyptians. Tau is the name of the Greek letter of the same shape.

There are only two Irish stone tau crosses - the other is more elaborate and comes from Kilnaboy - Cill Inine Baoith - County Clare.

Tory Tau front view © Alan Sproull
 
 
   
  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.1 An Chros Tau

    As you arrive in Tory the first site to greet you is the Tau Cross. Sitting high on a plinth, the T-shaped stone cross is a symbol of the island’s Christian heritage.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.2 The Old Graveyard

    The graveyard is believed to be on the site of an Teampull Buí - the main church of a monastic settlement on Tory.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.3 The Bell Tower

    The Bell Tower is the only surviving round tower in Donegal. Although nearly 13 metres tall it is among the smallest of such structures in Ireland. Its date is not known but could be as late as the 12th century.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.4 St John's Altar

    This altar dedicated to St John the Baptist is just beside the Bell Tower. There are a number of stones here - including a stone trough, decorated stones and slabs, a quern (millstone) and the remains of the base of a cross.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.5 St Brigid's Oratory

    The stone altar of St Brigid lies between the islanders’ houses. On top of the altar are three quern stones (used for grinding corn) and two granite slabs.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.6 Church of the Seven

    These are the only chapel remains on Tory Island. Móirsheisear translates as ‘big six’ which is an old Irish word for the number seven.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.7 Rock of the Hound

    Local tradition says that when Colmcille first set foot on Tory, he was met by the local king, Oilill who refused to let him land.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.8 Cnoc na Naomh

    Local legend says that Colmcille stood on this hill - Cnoc na Naomh - with his companions Saints Fionán, Dubthach and Begley.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.9 Ray Church

    This extraordinary 5 1/2 metre high cross stands inside the ruins of Ray Church. It was found broken in the graveyard outside the church, rebuilt and erected inside the church walls for protection.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    2.10 Tullaghobegley

    The ruins of the late medieval Tullaghobegley Church and its graveyard lie on a small mound just to the south of Falcarragh. This tullach - or ‘low hill’ or ‘mound’ - was probably originally a place used for tribal inauguration ceremonies.