The history of Ireland is as long as it is colourful and the inscriptions on this collection, allow the story by read by all who wear it. Each icon is representative of an historical moment or turning point in our past which has shaped Ireland to be the magnificent and unique country it is today.
Starting with the megalithic dolmen, these can be found all over Ireland with some dating as far back as 6,000 years ago. Dolmens are usually two or more standing stones capped with a large stone slab and are single passage burial tombs. Some sites such as the one in Carrowmore,Co.Sligo comprise of an entire ancient dolmen cemetery.
Next, we come to the tri-spiral which is the carving on the entrance stone of Newgrange. Dating back to 3,200BC, this passage tomb is older than Stonehenge and even the Great Pyramids of Egypt. It was built to align with the Winter Solstice which causes the passage and chamber to be illuminated at sunrise, a truly breathtaking sight to behold. The entrance stone is carved with a tri-spiral, as this collection showcases.
The Ogham Symbol.
The Ogham symbol bring us to the 4th century. Ogham is an ancient Irish language written with marking alongside or across a central line. It has been found on standing stones and stone crosses and is sometimes referred to as the “Celtic Tree Alphabet” as some of the letters refer to old Irish names for trees.
The symbol of St.Patrick recognises his arrival in Ireland and the dawn of Christianity in the country. As one of our principal patron saints, he is said to have used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity and to have banished snakes from Ireland, as we can see from these cleverly carved images.
One of the Ireland’s biggest contribution to Western European Art of the Middle Ages are the Celtic High Crosses. Their design imitates the wood and metal crosses before them, and although much of the inscriptions and imagery have been lost to the ravages of time, some examples still bear some impressive Celtic knotwork, images of saints and scholars, pilgrims, animals and some older examples bear Ogham carvings also.
King ‘Silkbeard Sitric’.
King “Silkbeard” Sitric was an Irish-Norse king of Dublin, married to Sláine, the daughter of Brian Boru. It was he who issued the first Irish coins, founded Christ Church cathedral in Dublin and although reigned at an unstable time in Dublin, trade flourished under him. He died in 1042.
With the Normans, came castles to the Irish landscape. Usually of a motte and bailey or tower house structure, these castles can be seen dotting the Irish landscape to this day. So of them in ruin and overrun with ivy and nesting birds, others beautifully restored by their owners. It is said that Galway is home to some 200 tower houses, with many to be seen bordering the shoreline of Lough Corrib.
Ireland has two official languages, Gaelic and English. Gaelic comes from the original language of the Celts and is of the family of Scots Gael, Manx Gaelic, Welsh, Breton and Cornish. Areas where Gaelic is spoken more widely or exclusively are known as the Gaeltacht in Ireland and as this language has a had a recent rise in popularity, among young and old alike, these areas are becoming ever popular to keep the language alive.
Music and Songs.
Music and song are paramount to the Irish as a means of storytelling through the ages, both for relaying myths and legend and the ballads of our historic heroes and battles. Irish musical and dance heritage is renowned the world over and so it is fitting that the Irish harp would be our chosen representative instrument.
Map of Ireland.
Greek astronomer and cartographer Claudius Ptolemy created a map of latitudes and longitudes that is thought to be the oldest surviving record of Ireland. With this as a reference, the oldest known map of Ireland was printed in 1482 and is housed in the House of Congress in Washington. Needless to say, this map is a source of immense pride for Irish both at home, and abroad.
Salmon of Knowledge.
The story of the Salmon of Knowledge has been told to children in Ireland for generations upon generations and as such, the salmon has become a symbol of wisdom for the Irish. It tells of how young Fionn MacCumhaill, the future leader of the Fianna, burned his finger on the salmon’s skin while cooking it and as soon as he placed his finger in his mouth, he acquired the knowledge of the world.
From the storytellers of centuries ago, sitting around fires with tales of giants and spirits, the ballads of Irish at war, under siege and those who had taken to the seas… to Raftery, the poet, Peig Sayers, Yeats, Stoker, Joyce, Beckett, Heaney, the list of Irish authors, poets, seanchaí and playwrights is endless and renowned in not one, but three languages- Irish, English and Latin.
Ireland’s horses are famous the world over for their outstanding performances nationally and internationally in racing and show-jumping alike. Thanks to our green open spaces, the plains of the midlands of Ireland are ideal for letting horses roam and graze on lush pasture which is what gives them their strong bones and good health.