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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.

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.

 

  • 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. The cross is thought to date from early medieval times and is carved from one piece of mica...

  • 2.2 The Old Graveyard

    The graveyard is believed to be on the site of an Teampull Buí which was the main church of a former monastery on Tory. An early Ordnance Survey map shows the remains of ‘St Columkille’s church’ in the southwest corner of the graveyard although no remains are visible today. There are many...

  • 2.3 The Bell Tower

    The Bell Tower is the only surviving round tower in Donegal. Although it's nearly 13 metres tall, it is among the smallest of these towers in Ireland. Its date is not known but could be as late as the 12th century. The granite stones used to make the tower would...

  • 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. It is said that the hollow stones were used...

  • 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. As well as Ulaí Bhríde there are remains of two other small chapels - or oratories - on the island. At one...

  • 2.6 Church of the Seven

    These are the only chapel remains on Tory Island. In Irish this place is called Móirsheisear which translates as ‘big number six’ and which is an old Irish word for the number seven. Islanders tell the story that the site is the tomb of seven people who drowned when their boat was...

  • 2.7 Rock of the Hound

    © Alan Sproull Local tradition says that when Colmcille first arrived at Tory island he was met by the local king Oilill who refused to let him land. Colmcille asked if he could simply have a piece of land the same size as his cloak on which he could build...

  • 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. As they stood here above Magheraroarty, they discussed who would have the task of converting the Tory islanders to Christianity. They decided to answer the question by throwing...

  • 2.9 Ray Church

    Ray (pronounced ‘Rye’ in Irish, Ráith), is an ancient church site remarkable for its links with the abbey of Iona, and for its very tall high cross - 5.56m, one of the tallest if not the tallest in Ireland. The church stands on the east bank or the river Ray...

  • 2.10 Tullaghobegley

    The ruins of the late medieval Tullaghobegley Church and graveyard lie on a small mound just to the south of Falcarragh. This tulach - or ‘low hill’ or ‘mound’ - was probably used for tribal inauguration ceremonies or other gatherings. Remains of other ancient monuments can be found nearby including burial grounds,...


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