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Aidan J. Breen : Curious Custom of Depositing Offerings of Jewellery

The curious custom of depositing offerings of jewellery at the base of the youngest of three interconnected Celtic Crosses on the Rosgoill & Fanad Peninsulas in Donegal, Ireland

Jewellery Offerings at the base of Kindrum Cross

On the 2nd of April 1878 William Sydney Clements otherwise known as the 3rd Earl of Leitrim was assassinated.
On the day he was killed along with two of his servants,” 100 ejectments were pending on the Leitrim Estate.”
There were also allegations that he used his position to have his way with females who came to his notice, although these allegations have always been strenuously denied.

He was a hard uncompromising man hated and feared by his tenants especially in Donegal and Fanad in particular, where a plot was hatched to assassinate him.  
Following a clandestine meeting organised by one of the secret society’s on the Fanad peninsula who supported tenants’ rights.
Three people were selected by lottery to carry out the deed; they were Neil Shiels, Michael Heraghty, and Michael McElwee known afterwards as the Fanad Patriots.

On the fateful day Lord Leitrim set out from his house just outside Carrigart in two horse drawn cars. In the first car seated in the front was the driver and in the back were Lord Leitrim and his clerk.
The second car was driven by the Michael Logue the Carrigart blacksmith, the father of a priest who would one day become Cardinal Logue, and in the back Lord Leitrim’s valet.

The two horse cars set out together, after a few miles the second car driven by Michael Logue fell behind, because the horse became lame.
It has been suggested that Logue had prior knowledge of the intended ambush and deliberately lamed the horse.
Thus isolating Lord Leitrim from any assistance, and also having the effect of putting Logue out of harm’s way.
Supporters of Cardinal Logue have always disputed this claim.
Personally I don’t believe Michael Logue was an accomplice, but even if he was I fail to see how it could affect the reputation of his son the Cardinal.
After all the only actions you are responsible for are your own.


4th Earl of Leitrim's Celtic Cross. Carrigart,Co.Donegal

The 3rd Earl of Leitrim was succeeded by his nephew Robert Birmingham Clements who became the 4th Earl of Leitrim.  
He was as popular as his uncle was unpopular, which in truth was not very difficult. He died an untimely death in 1892 at the age of 45.
He was responsible for many improvements in the area and the world famous Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Links were his brainchild.
A magnificent white marble Celtic cross was unveiled to his memory in Carrigart in 1895.
This was in stark contrast to the 3rd Earl who when on the way to his final resting place in Dublin, his cortege was attacked and the citizens of Dublin
pelted the hearse with rotten vegetables and tried unsuccessfully to throw his coffin into the river Liffey.

Inscription on4th Earl of Leitrim's Celtic Cross

A Celtic cross was also erected to the memory of Michael Logue by his son Michael Cardinal Logue in the catholic graveyard of Umlagh just outside Carrigart in the late nineteenth century.

Logue Celtic Cross, Umlagh. Co. Donegal


Inscription on Logue Celtic Cross

In 1960 a Celtic cross was raised on the shores of Kindrum Lake on the Fanad peninsula, to commemorate the three Fanad patriots,”
who by their heroism in Gratlagh-Wood on the Morning of April the 2nd, ended the Tyranny of Landlordism.”

Kindrum Cross
Since this cross was erected a curious custom of depositing jewellery at the back of the base of the cross has developed.
It is the custom at holy wells, mass rocks and other scared places to leave an offering associated with a person’s complaint or prayer for some intention.  
The offerings at the base of the cross consist of some coins but more uniquely and exclusively women’s jewellery.
It is quite extraordinary to my mind that this cross has been made a sacred place and a tradition has successfully been initiated and perpetuated.
The three men commemorated while patriots could hardly be considered saints or holy men. I suppose a tradition has to have a beginning and a place is made holy by popular acclaim.
This cross is situated in a very isolated place and in all the times I have been there, never have I encountered another sinner.
Could it be, that, by leaving votive offerings of jewellery at this spot, females are making the offering in the hope of being blessed with children,
finding a life partner or repairing a damaged relationship? Whether I am wide of the mark or not, this tradition does seem to have a very definite feminine aspect to it.
And whatever the intentions of the donors are, I hope all their prayers are answered.


Jewellery offerings at the base of Kindrum Cross


Kindrum Cross - Inscription in English


Jewellery offerings at the base of Kindrum Cross


Base of Kindrum Cross


Kindrum Cross - Inscription in Irish


Update June 2012

The curious customs of depositing jewellery at the foot of Kindrum cross looks like it is on the wane. With very little jewellery being deposited and coins now the predominant offering.
Locals are adamant that they are not responsible for the deposits and say that this custom has only started in the last few years.
The practice of leaving jewellery and coins at this spot seems to coincide with the opening of the Harry Blaney Bridge on May 2009 which linked the Rosgoill & Fanad Peninsulas and made the Kindrum Cross more accessible.
It has been suggested that someone for whatever reason placed the first piece of Jewellery and others imitated this act and were moved to also leave a memento. The fact that depositors are visitors to the area is borne out by some of the items;
there are some coins of the realm (UK) and a key ring from Clondalkin in West Dublin.
The enigma continues.......

Text & Images  - - Copyright : Aidan Breen 2012

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