A Bond of Kindred

St. Martin's Cross; sterling silver; by Alexander Ritchie.
St. Martin’s Cross; sterling silver; by Alexander Ritchie.

As Thicke As Pleates May Lye

With skulles upon their poules,
Insteade of civil cappes,
With speares in hand and sword by sides,
To bear off afterclappes;
With jackettes long and large,
Which shroud simplicitie:
Though spiteful dartes which they do beare
Importe iniquitie.
Their shirtes be verie straunge,
Not reaching paste the thigh,
With pleates on pleates they pleated are,
As thicke as pleates may lye.
Whose slieves hang trailing doune,
Almoste unto the shoe,
And with a mantle commonlie
The Irish Karne doe goe.
And some amongst the reste,
Do use another weede:
A coat I ween of strange device,
Which fancie first did breed.
His skirtes be verie shorte,
With pleates set thicke about,
And Irish trouzes more, to put
Their straunge protractours out.
Like as their weedes be straunge,
And monstrous to beholde;
So do their manners far surpasse
Them all a thousand folde.
For they are termed wilde,
Wood Karne they have to name;
And mervaile not though straunge it be,
For they deserve the same.

— from The Image of Irelande, by John Derricke (London, 1581).

Folio 202 Verso

Folio 202 verso from the Book of Kells; the Temptation of Christ.

Brecbennoch of St. Columba

The Monymusk Reliquary is an VIII century Scottish reliquary made of wood and metal characterised by an Insular fusion of Gaelic and Pictish design and Anglo-Saxon metalworking, probably by Ionan monks. It has been said to be the Brecbennoch of St. Columba (modern Gaelic Breac Bannoch or “embossed peaked-thing”), a sacred battle ensign of the Scottish army, used for saintly intercession.

Folio 114 Recto

Folio 114 recto from the Book of Kells; the arrest of Christ.

Folio 188 Recto

Folio 188 recto from the Book of Kells; the beginning of the Gospel according to St. Luke.

Feradach Went to Heaven

Both brandubh and fidchell are both ancient Irish board games.

* * *

583 Kl. The slaying of Feradach Finn son of Dui, king of Osraige. Now he was one of the three kings who went to heaven during the lifetime of Colum Cille, and this is the reason, as Colum Cille told Áed son of Ainmere: A great illness seized Feradach. Clann Connla came to storm his house, because Feradach son of Dui was of the Corcu Laígde (for seven kings of the Corcu Laígde ruled Osraige, and seven kings of the Osraige took the kingship of Corcu Laígde). Now, he had waged war against Clann Connla. And he was in his sleeping-place then, and his riches were all there with him, as it was customary for the kings to have cubicles of yew about them, that is, a partitioned place, for their bars and cases of silver and their cups and goblets to give service at night, and their brandub and fidchell games and their bronze hurley-sticks to use by day. Feradach had many treasures, and he loved them greatly; but he had acquired them by evil means, for he would not hear of much or little gold or silver, in the possession of either powerful or wretched in Osraige, without confiscating it to take away that wealth, to ornament those treasures. Feradach’s sons came to his bed then to take the treasures away with them. ‘What do you want, sons?’ asked Feradach. ‘To take the treasures away with us,’ answered the youths. ‘You shall not take them,’ said Feradach, ‘for they were ill-gotten; I tormented many in gathering them, and I consent to being tormented myself by my enemies on their account.’

His sons left him, and he began fervent penance. Then Clann Connla came, and they killed Feradach, and took the treasures; and Feradach went to heaven.

Fragmentary Annals of Ireland, Annal FA 4.

Tara Brooch

The Tara Brooch is a Celtic brooch dating to circa AD 700 and perhaps the most impressive of the over fifty elaborate ancient Irish brooches yet found. It was discovered in 1850 and rapidly recognised as one of the most important works of early Christian Irish Insular art; it is now displayed in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
Rear view of the Tara Brooch. The seven-inch long pseudo-penannular brooch is composed primarily of silver-gilt and is embellished with intricate abstract decoration including interlace on both front and back. It was made in many pieces, with much of the decoration on small “trays” or panels which were then fixed into place. When it was found only one panel of decoration was missing, but several more have now disappeared, apparently before 1872, when it entered the collection of the Royal Irish Academy.

Folio 200 Recto

Folio 200 recto from the Book of Kells; (part of) St. Luke’s genealogy of Jesus.

Folio 34 Recto

Folio 34 recto from the Book of Kells; Chi-Rho page; introducing St. Matthew’s account of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Theft of the Book of Kells

The theft (and eventual recovery less its golden cover) of the Book of Kells is recorded in the Annals of Ulster under the year A.D. 1007.

* * *

The Great Gospel of Colum Cille was wickedly stolen by night from the western sacristy in the great stone church of Cenannas. It was the most precious object of the western world on account of the human ornamentation (?). This Gospel was recovered after two months and twenty nights, its gold having been taken off it and with a sod over it.

Annals of Ulster, U1007.11.

Book of Durrow: Folio 125 Verso

Folio 125 verso from the Book of Durrow; carpet page.