Souvenirs of pilgrimages to Lough Derg in county Donegal from the early 18th to the middle of the 19th century are at present on display at the National Museum of Ireland- Country Life, Turlough, Castlebar.
The souvenir that a pilgrim bought to mark their pilgrimage became known as a Penal Cross, carved entirely from wood, and with similar inscriptions on them all –they are described as one of the few examples of Irish folk art.
A selection of 21 of these penal crosses have been taken out of storage and put on temporary display, until the end of October, at the Turlough Museum.
The display is part of Folk21, a year-long programme to mark the 21st anniversary of the Irish Folklife Collection in Turlough.
The Penal Crosses, replace the 21 butter markers, and before that the 21 St Brigid’s Crosses, that have all been part of this year’s Folk21 celebrations.
Clodagh Doyle is the Keeper of the Irish Folklore Collection at the National Museum of Country Life and Midwest News Editor Teresa O’Malley visited the facility and spoke to Clodagh about the Penal Crosses and their part in our folklore history…

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