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Crom Cruach

by Micha F. Lindemans
The chief idol of Eirin. This huge object stood on the plain of Mag Sleact (the plain of adoration or prostration) in County Cavan in Ulster. Situated around him were twelve smaller idols made of stone while his was of gold. To him the early Irish sacrificed one third of their children on Samain (November 1) in return for milk and corn and the good weather that insured the fertility of cattle and crops. The god was held in horror for his terrible exactions; it was even dangerous to worship him, for the worshippers themselves often perished in the act of worship.

It is said that his cult was introduced by a pre-Christian king names Tigernmus. During the prostrations one Samhain night, he and three fourths of his followers destroyed themselves.

The twelve lesser idols that encircle Crom have led to the assumption that he was a solar deity; certainly a fertility god. However, he has not been identified with any of the ancient Irish gods. According to legend, St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, cursed and destroyed it (the idol sunk back into the earth). The saint preached to the people against the burning of milk-cows and their first-born progeny.

Crom Cruach, or Cromm Crúac means bloody crescent or bloody bent one and is mentioned as such in the 6th century Dinnshenchas in the Book of Leinster. It is also referred to as Cenn Crúaic (bloody head) in the Tripartite Life of Patrick. Another name is ríg-íodal h-Eireann, the king idol of Ireland.

Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Cromm Crúac
  • Pronunciation:
    crom croo'-ach

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