Penal Crosses – Radharc

Irish Culture, History
Directed by:
Father Joe Dunn
Produced by:


10 mins

This short film examines the history, design and function of Penal Crosses in Ireland. The crosses date from the time of the Penal Laws in Ireland when Roman Catholics were forbidden to practise their religion, own property or gain positions of power. Penal Crosses were a portable, easily concealed, relic of worship for Catholics whose religion was under great threat. The film, made in 1962, explores the history of the crosses and suggests interpretations for the images carved on them. It includes an interview with Penal Cross expert A.T. Lucas, then Director of the National Museum of Ireland.

Radharc was an independent production company established by Father Joe Dunn, Father Desmond Forristal and other like-minded priests to make programmes for television and non-theatrical exhibition. Between 1961 and 1996 they made over 400 films in 75 countries on social, political and religious issues.

To see more of The Radharc Collection, click here

With kind permission of The Radharc Trust.