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Crom Cruach facts for kids

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St. Patrick and Crom Cruaich
St. Patrick and Crom Cruaich. Illustrated by L.D.Symington.

Crom Cruach (Old Irish: Cromm Crúaich) was a pagan god of pre-Christian Ireland. According to Christian writers, he was propitiated with human sacrifice and his worship was ended by Saint Patrick.

He is also referred to as Crom Cróich, Cenn Cruach/Cróich and Cenncroithi. He is related to the later mythological and folkloric figure Crom Dubh. The festival for Crom Cruach is called Domhnach Chrom Dubh, Crom Dubh Sunday.

The references in the dinsenchas ("place-lore") poem in the 12th century to sacrifice in exchange for milk and grain suggest that Crom had a function as fertility god. The description of his image as a gold figure surrounded by twelve stone or bronze figures has been interpreted by some as representing the sun surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, suggesting a function as solar deity.

Name

Crom Cruach's name takes several forms and can be interpreted in several ways. Crom (or cromm) means "bent, crooked, stooped". Cenn means "head", and by extension "head, chief". Cruach (or crúach) is a noun meaning "pile, heap, mound, stack", generally of grain, hay, peat or other gathered goods, booty, and so on, including slaughtered fighters. A common extension is its reference to hills or mountains that look like stacks or piles.

Plausible meanings "crooked one or head of the mound/pile/stack/mountain".[improper synthesis?]

Archaeology

A decorated stone known as the Killycluggin Stone (from Irish: Coill an Chlogáin meaning 'the Wood of the Bell-Shaped Stone') has been interpreted by some as the cult image of Crom Cruach. It was found at Killycluggin, County Cavan. It was discovered broken in several pieces and partly buried close to a Bronze Age stone circle, inside which it probably once stood.

The 14th century Book of McGovern, written in Magh Slécht, contains a poem which states that Crom was situated at Kilnavert beside the road and that the local women used to tremble in fear as they passed by. There is still a local tradition in the area that the Killycluggin Stone is the Crom stone.

There is another standing stone identified with Crom Crúaich in Drumcoo townland, County Fermanagh. It has the figure of a man walking engraved on it, which either represents Saint Patrick or a druid, depending on when it was engraved. A nearby street is named Crom Crúaich Way after it.

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