Ireland's Ancient Treasures


Three of Ireland's greatest treasures are on display at the National Museum in Dublin. The Tara Brooch, Ardagh Chalice, and Cross of Cong are all ancient metalwork pieces created over a thousand years ago.

The Tara Brooch was created in 700 AD. It was found in 1850 by a peasant woman. She sold it to a dealer who named it the Tara Brooch after the Hills of Tara. It was likely made for a wealthy male to show off his status. The brooch is made of gold, silver, copper, amber and glass with intricate filigree patterns. The beading contains designs of wolves heads and dragons faces. This is one of the most spectacular and well preserved finds.

The Ardagh Chalice is considered Ireland's foremost treasure. It is also the finest example of 8th century metalwork. It was found in 1868 by 2 men digging for potatoes at a ring fort in Ardagh. Made of silver, bronze and gold, the chalice also features filigree patterns and stonework. Below the horizontal band are the names of the 12 apostles. It is believed that the chalice, along with a few other items, was buried in 1740 in a hurry to hide it from approaching soldiers. The Ardagh Chalice is the inspiration for warrior shield jewellery.

The Cross of Cong was made in 1123 under order of the High King of Ireland, Turlough O'Conor. It was used as a processional cross. The cross is oak covered in bronze with interlacing animals, many of which are snakes. There is a large crystal in the center which one could look through and see what is claimed to be a piece of the true cross. There is an inscription that addresses the true cross. The Cross of Cong was hidden in an oak chest in a church during the Reformation, and was later discovered by a Priest.

These three pieces show the skills of the craftsman as early as the 8th century. The intricate designs and metalwork make them true Irish treasures.

Ireland Treasures

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