Visit to the National Museum of Archeology

26 Sep

Walking into the National Museum of Archeology, I was immediately overwhelmed by the vast amounts of various, ancient artifacts and treasures displayed on the main floor of the ground room. After walking aimlessly around for a bit, I came across the first gallery of the museum’s treasury exhibit. This gallery displays pieces of art uncovered throughout Ireland, starting from the Iron Age and continuing into the early Medieval Ireland. Large descriptions on the walls indicate and describe stages of Irish art history and its evolving influences throughout that time period.

While walking throughout the gallery, reading the description plates of a variety of pieces, I noticed a display of a tall, ancient looking cross. It features many intricate and detailed designs, and according to is description, is known as the Tully Lough Cross from the 8th or 9th century A.D.  It is from what is referred to as the Golden Age of Irish art. This time period was in the center of Ireland’s transition from paganism to Christianity, which included missionaries from Roman Britain and the building of monasteries. This age defines itself through the exceptional craftsmanship and design displayed in pieces from those centuries. Before Christianity was widely established, Irish art was heavily influenced by the Celts. Celtic art involved highly skilled craftsmen and detailed metalwork. As Christianity became more widespread, the same skills were utilized by Irish artists, but the actual designs evolved into Romanized Christian influenced pieces, such as crosses and chalices. The Golden Age produced a combination of Roman Christian influence and design combined with various bits of Celtic craftsmanship and design. Throughout the rest of the Golden Age display were chalices, small ornaments, crosiers and a huge stone inscribed with an elaborate cross on its front.  

The Tully Lough Cross itself seems to be an excellent representation of the Golden Age of Irish art. It displays its beautiful craftsmanship and details. It causes me to believe that having the occupation of an artist in that time period required brilliant concentration, extensive training and an eye for beauty. Although the Tully Lough is unique in the context of the museum’s Golden Age display, it does share the same qualities as the other pieces do.

Normally I do not find museums particularly interesting, but after visiting the museum, I really felt as though I had learned something, and am eager to find out more about the history of Ireland.

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