Dairine Nuttall of www.irelandtourguide.ie posted this fine photo of the Ballintubber Cross recently. This lies on the eastern slopes of Blakestown Hill and looks down on Poulaphuca Reservoir. It’s marked on our Wicklow West 1:25000 scale map but note that it lies on private land, so ask if you wish to visit.
The Ballintubber Cross is a great example of the work of Wicklow stone cutters, who were busy through the 19th and early 20th centuries. Whilst there are some granite quarries as in nearby Ballyknockan, a lot of material in practice was cut from ‘wild rock’. So if a house needed a few lintels or cills etc., the stone cutters would be directed towards some nearby large granite boulders. Here they would set to work splitting the boulders using various techniques but commonly using pick & wedges. In this way many large rocks were broken up and used for local construction.
In this case, the commission was for a mighty cross but after some considerable work, it cracked and broke. Now left abandoned and a testament to the difficulties and frustrations that must have been part & parcel of this work. If you’d like to learn more of the stone cutters trade, I can recommend two books: Carlow Granite by Michael Conry and My Life as a Stonecutter by Andy Farrington.