Bray People

Glen­dalough down through the cen­turies

- By MYLES BUCHANAN Archaeology · Arts · Social Sciences · Museu Nacional · Ireland · Dublin · Alexander Graham Bell · England · Rome · Europe

A NEW ex­hi­bi­tion tak­ing place in the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land ex­plores the Glen­dalough monas­tic site down through the cen­turies.

The launch of the ‘ Glen­dalough: Power, Prayer and Pil­grim­age’ on Wednesday was live-streamed and fea­tured con­tri­bu­tions from Min­is­ter for Me­dia, Tourism, Arts, Cul­ture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Cather­ine Martin T.D., Chair of the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land Cather­ine Heaney and Arch­bishop of Dublin and Pri­mate of Ire­land Diarmuid Martin, amongst oth­ers.

Since it was founded by St Kevin in the late 6th cen­tury, Glen­dalough has been a place where peo­ple have re­treated to seek iso­la­tion and heal­ing, mak­ing the tim­ing of this as the first new ex­hi­bi­tion to open at the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land since Covid-19 ar­rived - caus­ing wide­spread acts of self-iso­la­tion on a global level - par­tic­u­larly perti­nent.

De­spite rea­son­ably rich his­tor­i­cal ev­i­dence, ar­chae­ol­ogy, and in par­tic­u­lar por­ta­ble ob­jects, pro­vide im­por­tant phys­i­cal ev­i­dence for life in this im­por­tant early monastery. Part­ner­ship be­tween ar­chae­ol­o­gists, park ad­min­is­tra­tors and lo­cal author­i­ties and the lo­cal com­mu­nity at Glen­dalough has al­lowed a rich ap­proach to mak­ing places through her­itage.

Twenty six ob­jects which have never been ex­hib­ited be­fore cel­e­brate this spe­cial place. Re­search­ing th­ese ob­jects brings rich in­sights into the lives of both the hum­ble and pow­er­ful who trav­elled as pil­grims or who lived at Glen­dalough.

Di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land, Lynn Scarff said; ‘ This ex­hi­bi­tion demon­strates so clearly the con­nec­tions be­tween our ma­te­rial, nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage and how all th­ese el­e­ments are in­ter­twined. One of the few pos­i­tives of the COVID 19 lock­down pe­riod was that peo­ple got to ex­plore their im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment within 2k of their home and the her­itage – be it built or nat­u­ral on their doorstep. We hope this ex­hi­bi­tion shines a light on a very spe­cial place in Ire­land.’

Among the items on dis­play is a bronze coated iron hand­bell, dated to the 8th or 9th cen­tury AD, found at a site near Glen­dalough and re­cently do­nated to the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land by Arch­bishop Martin on be­half of the dio­cese. Iron­work­ing ev­i­dence from Glen­dalough sug­gests that this bell may well have been made at the monastery.

Arch­bishop Martin said: Glen­dalough holds a spe­cial place in Ir­ish his­tory and in the his­tory of Chris­tian­ity. I am de­lighted that the iron bell we have do­nated to the Na­tional Mu­seum is on dis­play for the first time in this im­por­tant ex­hi­bi­tion, help­ing to tell the story of Glen­dalough as a cen­tre of spir­i­tu­al­ity for cen­turies.’

Also fea­tured is a tiny cross made of jet orig­i­nat­ing in north-eastern Eng­land dis­cov­ered in 2017 and thought to have been worn by a pil­grim as a mark of pri­vate de­vo­tion, which is con­sid­ered a rare find in an Ir­ish medieval con­text.

An­other ex­hibit is a frag­ment of a por­phyry tile, a stone quar­ried in the eastern Mediter­ranean, which was re­cov­ered dur­ing the ex­ca­va­tion of one of the most re­mote sites in the Glen­dalough val­ley in 1958 and is thought to have been taken from a build­ing in Rome or from a Ro­man build­ing in Europe and car­ried back to Glen­dalough by a cleric and used as a mark of au­thor­ity.

A late 10th / early 11th cen­tury bell, the ear­li­est in Ire­land, which was sus­pended for rope-ring­ing in a bel­fry at St Kevin’s Church, is thought to have been im­ported from Eng­land or north-west­ern Europe.

The ex­hi­bi­tion also fea­tures items such as a shoe from the 10th cen­tury which be­longed to a pil­grim and which was lost in a bog un­til it was found by a passer-by and re­ported to the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land over a thou­sand years later, as well as a col­lec­tion sil­ver coins found as part of a hoard in the 1980s.

 ??  ?? Jet cross.
A disc headed cop­per al­loy pin with sil­ver in­lay.
Cop­per al­loy caul­dron.
Jet cross. A disc headed cop­per al­loy pin with sil­ver in­lay. Cop­per al­loy caul­dron.
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Bell, Glen­dalough.
Sil­ver cross.
Bell, Glen­dalough. Sil­ver cross.
 ??  ?? Min­is­ter for Me­dia, Tourism, Arts, Cul­ture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Cather­ine Martin T.D. and Cather­ine Heaney, Chair of the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land look­ing at some of the ex­hibits.
Min­is­ter for Me­dia, Tourism, Arts, Cul­ture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Cather­ine Martin T.D. and Cather­ine Heaney, Chair of the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land look­ing at some of the ex­hibits.
 ??  ?? Arch­bishop of Dublin and Pri­mate of Ire­land Diarmuid Martin with Maeve Sikora, Keeper of An­tiq­ui­ties at the Na­tional Mu­seum.
Arch­bishop of Dublin and Pri­mate of Ire­land Diarmuid Martin with Maeve Sikora, Keeper of An­tiq­ui­ties at the Na­tional Mu­seum.
 ??  ?? A Belleek teapot fea­tur­ing scenes of Glen­dalough.
A Belleek teapot fea­tur­ing scenes of Glen­dalough.
 ??  ?? Gilt wooden ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal statue.
Gilt wooden ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal statue.
 ??  ?? Gilt chip carved mount.
Gilt chip carved mount.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland