The High Cross and Skull House at Cooly over looks the town of Moville and Lough Foyle. The site was founded by St. Patrick and it was mentioned in the historic texts Annals of the Four Masters.
The impressive ancient High Cross at Cooly has no carvings and stands over 8 feet tall at the gate of the ecclesiastical site in Cooly. The hole at the top of the cross is a Holestone used during pagan rituals. St Patrick is believed to have used Holestones on High Crosses so locals would have a familiar symbol on-top of the newly introduced Christianity symbol.
The ancient site at Cooly sits up on a hill over looking Moville and Lough Foyle.
A path leads down the middle of the site to the entrance of the Skull House. The small building only has one entrance, no windows, and is built up from large stones.
It is said the Skull house is a tomb-shrine associated with St Finnian who was the abbot of Monastery. I’ve also heard other reasons for what the Skull House was used for, such as storing valuables belonging to the monastery, storing dead bodies dug up from graves to make room for more graves, and even sleeping quarters for residents of the site.
Looking inside the Skull House you’ll find bones, most likely recently put there by a local. Seeing the size of the inside of the Skull House I don’t think this was used as sleeping quarters.
Propped up against one of the church walls is a small standing stone slab engraved with a Celtic cross. This was probably the head stone for the monk who lived in the monastery.
The Monastery at Cooly was in a very small site but yet had two churches, the Skull House, and a cemetery.
Every stone you see on the grass in this photo can be considered as a grave. Most of them are placed in rows but have no information on who might be buried there and as you can see, there is a lot of graves here.