Tara Brooch

23 Jul

Going into the Museum I was really drawn to the brooches. While there were many brooches on display, one stood out to me the most: The Tara Brooch. The quality and craftsmanship of the brooch was incredible for something made in the early medieval period.  2013-06-26 15.25.50

I found out that the eighth to ninth Centuries when these were created were also referred to as the golden age.  Around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, Roman British introduced Christianity to Ireland. Along with the new religious practices, they also brought new styles and technical skills to Irish Craftsman. Many of Christian rituals required special objects which gave craftsman opportunities to develop these skills and styles. This resulted in a rich collection of high quality metalwork.  Many of the objects found form this time period have become icons of Irish ancestry, like the Tara Brooch.

The Tara Brooch was not actually found in Tara but instead in Bettystown, Co Meath, in 1850. A dealer had called it the Tara Brooch to increase its value. The brooch is elaborately decorated on both sides and made of gilt and cast silver. There were several very beautiful brooches on display at the museum but none were quite as elaborate or thought out. The execution of each individual element of the decorations is astounding and the range of techniques used to create such a small object is incredible. The Tara Brooch represents the pinnacle of achievement in metalwork during the early medieval time period and is one of the most important works of early Irish Christian art.tarabrooch (1)

The Tara Brooch and brooches like it have now become extremely popular as a part of the Celtic revival. When the dealer who gave the brooch its name was asked why he had called it that, he said that he knew that it would appeal to the Irish middle-class fantasy of being descendants of the Celts. I wonder if the brooch would be near as well regarded and famous if he had not named it the Tara Brooch. Many places throughout Ireland sell replicas or similar brooches that are meant to be very Irish. His statement implies that some things are played up for to make money and for the benefit of those who want to identify with Irish ancestry.  By Caitlin King



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