National Museum – Bronze Cross

26 Jan


The first object I was drawn to in the National Museum of Ireland was a cross, displayed at the top of the landing after walking up the stairs to the second floor of the museum.  It was simple but its placement is what led me to become interested in it, as it was the only object in the case, and its case placed no where near any others.  It was a small, probably about 2 feet tall or so, made of copper. This cross was not very ornately decorated, just a few designs carved all over the cross, and squares tilted on their sides (also made of copper) attached at the top of the cross, on the two arms and at the bottom of the cross where it met the stand.  The stand was simple, made of the same copper as the cross and fanned out into six petals. 


This cross was believed to be from somewhere in-between 1450-1500 A.D. and was used on a church altar.  It was given to the church by the Madden family, in honor of their mother from Waterford.  It was not made clear if this was from a Catholic or Protestant church, although I would assume it was originally in a Catholic church.  At this time, most everyone in the country was Catholic, however England monarchs were about to begin the Protestant Reformation in 1536, so there may have been some Protestants in the country. 


Throughout the museum there were many other crosses and other religious items, both practical and for decoration, some much more detailed and intricate than this copper cross.  The most striking cross in the museum was definitely the Cross of Cong, much more detailed and gorgeous than the one I chose to describe.  But I think the difference in the crosses throughout the museum showed the evolution of the place that religion took in the Irish’s lives and the different uses for these religious ornaments.  The Cross of Cong was created for the high priest at the time, whereas the cross I chose was a small donation to the church in honor of a lost family member, at a time where there would soon be no more high priests and instead monarchs that governed the churches.  It showed the shift in towards a more secular way of life in Ireland.


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