© Donal G. Burke 2017
About 1905 the noted antiquary Lord Walter Fitzgerald recorded that ‘at the junction of two roads, where they enter the village of Kilconnell from the Woodlawn direction, on a base of rough mason-work forming three steps, stands a slender limestone cross. The shaft is octagonal, and resembles a window mullion; the head is plain, with arms similar to the shaft.’ ‘Between the head and the shaft is a round, egg-like stone, on which is carved in raised letters, in two lines, the following inscription’:-
ORATE PRO D. IOANNE DONELLANO
EIVSQVE FAMILIA QVI HANC A..D. CRVCEM ERIGI FECIT
Re-erected by Revd W. Manning
P.P. Kilcll 1844.[i]
The cross appears to have suffered some damage that required Fr. Manning to re-erect it but that damage is likely to have occurred not long prior to its re-erection. It was intact in April of 1792 when the artist S. Walker drew the cross standing by the roadside. Walker gave the inscription on the ball as ‘IHS Orate pro D. Joanno Donellano qui hac ejusque familia crucem erigi fecit 1682’. In his ‘Tribes and Customs of Hy Many’, published in 1843, the antiquarian John O Donovan simply said of the cross that it was ‘still extant’ and gave the inscription. He noted the local legend that the cross was ‘believed in the country to bow whenever any of the Ballydonelan family pass by to be buried’. O Donovan’s note may indicate that any damage requiring its reconstruction is likely to have occurred either later in 1843 or in 1844, immediately prior to its re-erection.
O Donovan attributed the construction of the cross to John Donelan whom he states was married to Mable, daughter of Sir Luke Fitzgerald of Tycraghan and who died at his house in Dublin on 10th July 1710. Donelan’s wife’s funeral entry in the records of Ulster King of Arms record her death on 12th January 1705.[ii] The erector of the cross would therefore have been son of Melaghlin Donelan who died in 1673 by his wife Christian Blake, which Melaghlin in turn was son of John Donelan and Dorothy Mostyn.