Sitting on a small hill behind some houses in the village of Twyford, 15 minutes from the centre of Athlone, this ornate high cross is estimated to be more than 1200 years old. Standing at just over 2 metres (6.5 feet) tall, the cross previously stood in the neighbouring area of Baylin (hence its name), although it is thought to have originated in Clonmacnoise. Also referred to as the Bealin cross, the modern spelling "Baylin" reflects its pronunciation.
An inscription on one side of the cross, translated, reads: OROIT AR TUATHGALL LAS DERNATH IN CHROSSA Translated from old Gaelic, this reads: "A prayer for Tuathgall, under whose auspices the cross was made" The indicates that the cross was created for a patron named Tuathgall (Too-ah-gal). Historians believe this may have been the abbot Clonmacnoise, named Tuathgall, who died in the early 9th century. Abbots often were patrons of high crosses in Ireland at that period.
Patterns and Carvings
Various carvings on the other cross sides include
- Beautiful geometric patterns
- Depictions of birdlike animals
- Ahunting scene with a horseman and a lion
- Intricate Celtic-style knot work
From Athlone, take the N6 toward Dublin. Take the Junction 9 exit for Cavan/Longford. Turn left immediately (R916) and then right immediately after that, onto Moydrum Road. Continue along Moydrum Road for 7 mins until you come to a small stone sign for Baylin village that says Failte go Baylin (Welcome to Baylin). There are a number of houses in this area. Just past this sign, look out for a brown tourist signpost that says "Baylin Cross", indicating that you should turn left. Halfway along this short road, the cross sits on top of a small hillock, just to the left of the road as you are driving along. There is no sign to indicate it.
Bealin High Cross. Image by Fr. John Muster