Murrain Cross

Murrain Cross, Hollywood
Jim Butler © 2020
Murrain cross at Firhouse, Dublin
Jim Butler © 2023
Murrain cross at Ballycullen, Co. Dublin
Jim Butler © 2023
Oldcourt, Co. Wicklow
Jim Butler © 2023
Blakestown, Co. Wicklow
Jim Butler © 2023

Up to recent times in parts of West Wicklow and south county Dublin there were Murrain crosses in some fields.

They were erected in the 19th century in the belief that they would protect cattle from the plague-like diseases which were rampant at that time.  Some crosses were made of iron and fixed into boulders in the fields where cattle were kept, others were carved from granite.  The word “murrain” dates back to the 14th century and comes from the old French word “morine” – which is from “morir” meaning to die. (1)

In 1948 the historian Liam Price came across these crosses in the Dunboyke area (West Wicklow) and was told by a local resident that another existed nearby. Their location is unclear today. However, there is a Murrain Cross in Hollywood (West Wicklow) in the field adjacent to Tutty’s pub.

There are also murrain crosses in Firhouse, and Ballycullen in south county Dublin and at Oldcourt and Blakestown, Co. Wicklow.

We received a very interesting comment about murrain crosses in England.  Follow this link:


(1)  Collins English Dictionary.  1992. HarperCollins Publishers, Glasgow

Comments about this page

  • Hi VAlerie. Many thanks for your very interesting comment. As you suggested, I googled the stones and found a great article on murrain stones in Market Drayton. I’ve added the link to our article. Many thanks. Oonagh, website admin.

    By Oonagh McElligott (03/12/2023)
  • In North Shropshire after a devastating outbreak some farmers put up Murrain stones remembering their lost herds…4 survive still Google murrain stones Market Drayton …

    By valerie (02/12/2023)
  • Many thanks for that Maria. It’s great to hear another cross exists. Hope you’re enjoying our website.

    By Oonagh McElligott (28/05/2021)
  • There’s a Murrain cross at Old Court, Manor Kilbride. The man who lived there when I was a kid, told us that it insignificant and was put there to allow the cows to scratch themselves! Those old guys were always joking us!. Glen Heste Pure Mile Group have a picture of it on page 18 in their publication Ballyward- Woodend Heritage 2018. They also say that according to local knowledge it was erected to keep away a disease known as ‘black leg’ in cattle.

    By Maria O'Hara (28/05/2021)
  • I learn something new every day. Thank you for this introduction to the Murrain Cross.

    By Pauline Flynn (14/05/2020)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.