Fragments of an ancient stone cross venerated by early Christians more than a thousand years ago have been returned to a new history exhibition centre in Killeeshil.
The pieces of the cross, originally found by the late Reverend Brett Ingram at St Paul’s Church in the parish, have been languishing in the vaults of the Historic Monuments Division for more than forty years. The display, which also includes a Christian artefact dating to the 13th Century and a Fort Edward Yeomanry Cavalry officer’s tunic button from 1796, was unveiled at the Killymady premises of the Killeeshil and Clonaneese Historical Society during their Midsummer celebrations.
“The cross fragment is rather unusual and possibly unique in its carving and will warrant further study in the coming years”, said a spokesperson for the society.
“We are extremely grateful to the Historic Monuments Division in lending us these items, and the work of Claire Foley and Maybelline Gormley.”
The remains of the cross are linked to what is termed as the Blackwater Group of early Christian sites and artefacts, and uniquely depicts a figure thought to be a founding saint or Abbot.
The exhibition opening included an excellent talk by Claire Foley (formerly of the NI Environment Agency) regarding the cross fragment. A spokesperson added: “The Society was delighted to welcome as a special guest the Vice Chairperson of Mid Ulster District Council, Mrs Sharon McAleer.
“Mid Ulster Council has been very supportive of the Society from its move to Killymaddy in recent years and the Society will continue to develop its facilities at Killymaddy.”
Other special guests included Sharon Ingram, daughter of the late Rev Brett Ingram and her two children Cherry and Sammy, Rev Peter Thompson of St Michaels Church, Castlecaulfield, Reverend Pat Hannigan and Reverend James Crowley from Killeeshil Parish, and Tyrone Rose Genevieve Scullion.