Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bronze Age Bracelet from New Ross, Co. Wexford

One of four bracelets from a hoard found at New Ross, Co. Wexford. The pieces are dated to the period from 800-700 BC. Currently on display at the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.

I've nothing else to say about this other than it's really lovely, shiny, and gold ... nope ... nothing ... not even a hint of a suggestion that it was used to adorn genitalia ... nothing of the kind ...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Freemasonry & the Celtic Revival … no, really …

In a previous post, I spoke about the rather wonderful silver replica of the Ark of the Covenant housed in the museum at the Grand lodge of Ireland, Molesworth Street, Dublin. In between engagements gracing the altar at meetings of Grand Lodge, the model is on display on the bottom shelf of the cabinet in the far wall of the museum. I mention this because I have frequently visited the museum and gazed upon the beauty of this piece, but have failed to notice some of the other pieces in the same cabinet. In particular, on the topmost shelf there is a delightful collection of silver gilt pieces that should be of interest to both archaeologists and Freemasons. The three pieces – two chalices and a drinking horn – were made by William Stokes in Dublin in 1909. They were intended to be used in the consecration of new Lodges. The museum’s information card indicates that the chalices were influenced by the Ardagh Chalice (now housed just around the corner in the National Museum of Ireland). The parallels are particularly clear in the form of the handles, the foot, the studded band of interlace passing through the handles and the largely plain bowl. However, the proportions are completely altered, mostly by the knopped neck that bears no resemblance to the original, seemingly taking more inspiration from medieval and later examples. If you’re being picky, you could note that the bowl is missing the escutcheons under the handles and the roundel on the body of the bowl is replaced with a copperplate inscription. Still, they are a beautiful pair of chalices.

Although taking the central place on the top shelf between the two chalices, the museum’s information card doesn’t appear to mention the beautiful drinking horn at all. Although quite different to the Kavanagh Charter Horn (also housed at the National Museum of Ireland), it would appear to be the most likely Irish inspiration for the horn shape, if not the actual decorative motifs themselves. In any case, it too is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and worth a trip to the Masonic museum to see … and then to the National Museum of Ireland to make your own comparisons!

Entry to the museum is free and is open to the public Monday to Friday throughout the year.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Who knows. Perhaps the Ark is still waiting in some antechamber for us to discover.

Of all of the wonderful treasures held in the museum at the Grand lodge of Ireland, Molesworth Street, Dublin, the Ark of the Covenant is my absolute favourite. It’s fabricated in solid silver and silver gilt by Henry Flavelle. His silversmiths workshop was located on Grafton St., Dublin and he also served as Worshipful Master of Lodge 93 in Dublin. The model was first exhibited in December 1877 at the dedication ceremony for Freemasons’ Hall. It was eventually gifted to Grand Lodge by Henry E Flavelle the silversmith’s son, who served as Deputy Grand Secretary from 1898 to 1920. The Ark is now placed on the altar at every meeting of the Grand Lodge in Dublin. It’s a fantastic piece of sculpture and artistry, and I urge you to go see it yourself if you get the chance!

The title of this post is, of course, from 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and the words are spoken by Belloq. Did you really think I was going to write about the Ark of the Covenant and not reference this?

Entry to the museum is free and is open to the public Monday to Friday throughout the year.