Wednesday, 30 November 2011




Regional round up from Antrim to Wicklow
All the news that probably won't make the national headlines. We hope you enjoy these bits and bobs from all over the country. You can read just the blurb we have here - or, if you'd like to read the story in full, click on the county name.

Antrim: St Catherine's to celebrate 300th birthday
The church in Killead will celebrate its 300th anniversary on St Catherine's Day, November 25 next year. A banquet was held to kick start a year of celebrations to be followed up by a series of other events throughout the year leading up to the anniversary.

Armagh: Local winners in schools' Anti-Bullying competition
Emily Frizell from Sacred Heart Grammar School, Newry was announced as a runner-up in the Poster (Post-Primary School) category while nine-year-old Orlaith McDonnell, from St Patrick's Primary School, Cullyhanna was a runner-up in the Poster (Primary School) category.

Carlow: New Hanover town centre gets green light
Last week An Bord Pleanála gave the go-ahead to the project, which is estimated to cost in the region of €60 million. Flagships stores such as Penneys and Debenhams will take centre stage in the development.

Cavan: Social Night in Mullagh
The event will be held at the Kilian Lodge Hotel on Saturday 3rd December. Everyone who helped in any way at the Hooley in the Park is invited to attend. Music by Jammin. Draw for €1,000 and lots of other prizes will take place.

Clare: Rice College heroes receive water safety awards
Bernard Cahill and Donough Curtin who rescued Ger Rogers and his eight year-old son, Gearóid, at Spanish Point beach on July 18 were recently presented with an Irish Water Safety award at Dublin Castle.

Donegal: Burtonport group looking to transform former Cope market
As part of a major effort effort to revitalise the coastal Gaeltacht village, the group will soon be looking for volunteers to help with painting the building for its new use as a tourist information point and cultural centre.

Down: Final withdrawal in Rathfriland
It was an historic day in Rathfriland on Friday as the Northern Bank closed its doors for the last time. As the clock struck 12 noon it brought to an end over 150 years of the bank's presence in the town. The landmark building will go on the market in the new year.

Dublin: Rush couple strike it lucky with €350,000 Lotto win
The delighted duo, who wish to keep the win private, picked their lucky numbers randomly. The lucky €8 ticket was bought on the day of the draw in Eurospar, Main Street, Rush.

Fermanagh: Shauna dedicates her win to big brother Cuaran
Lisnaskea Emmetts ladies team won the All Ireland Intermediate title at the weekend with a brilliant one point win over Stabannon of Co. Louth. Speaking after the game Shauna McCrystal revealed that it was her deceased brother who inspired her to get fit for the year.

Galway: Top award for local butcher
William Morgan of Roger Finnerty & Sons Family Butchers, Oughterard and Eyre Square has been selected as the Supreme Champion at the Craft Butchers Awards, which recognises only the crème de la crème of butchers across the country.

Kerry: Scores add up for young stars
The youngsters of north and south Kerry provided two nights of great entertainment over the weekend as they took part in the Scór Na nóg Chiarraí semi finals on Saturday and Sunday. The events took place at two different venues, where huge attendances were treated to entertainment of the highest standard.

Kildare: Adding Christmas cheer in Newbridge
The Town Council is joining with local businesses in a pre-Christmas project which will add to the town's festive atmosphere and at the same time raise funds for charity. The council is purchasing a 20-foot Christmas tree from Coillte, which will be lit up along with other Christmas lighting in the town, on the evening of 8 December.

Kilkenny: Festive fillies raring to go
Preparations for the 2011 Festive Fillies Fundraiser are now in full swing. The brainchild of a group of ladies from Mullinavat, this year's event will be held in the Rising Sun, Mullinavat on Saturday, 3rd December.

Laois: Bríd helps break world record
Brid Brophy from Ballylinan was one of over 300 participants who set a Guinness Book of Records for largest grouping of Leprechauns, beating a record set by Jay Leno of America's Tonight Show earlier this year.

Leitrim: Future of Ladies Football in doubt
And that's because all but one of the current Ladies County Board officers are standing down at their AGM next Sunday and no nominations have been received.

Limerick: City's iconic floating Christmas tree will not return
The 100 feet tree, made entirely of recycled metals - some from the stand in Thomond Park - has been a fixture at Christmas, but has had its problems, including toppling over earlier this year.

Longford: 2011 Person of the Year announced
John Farrell of Newtowncashel has been named this year's Longford Person of the Year. At a special ceremony held in the Longford Arms Hotel on Friday (November 25) last, John was awarded the county's highest accolade.

Louth: Festival will light up Boyne
Drogheda is to stage its most thrilling Christmas festival yet. A huge crowd is expected onto the streets on Wednesday November 30th from 5.30pm to 8.30pm to help the Local Heroes team 'Light Up Drogheda on the Boyne'.

Mayo: Castlebar Gospel Choir Christmas Concert
The evening of Friday, 2nd December will see Castlebar Gospel Choir sharing their own take on some festive favourites and much more during their Christmas Concert in Ballintubber Abbey at 8pm. Admission is €10 on the door with children, students and OAPs free.

Meath: Schoolgirls complete golf introductory programme
Students from O'Carolan College, Nobber, recently completed the First Tee Golf Programme, which aims to introduce more people to the sport of golf and the life skills associated with the sport.

Monaghan: Young people attend Dail Na Og
Five young people from the county travelled to Croke Park recently to participate in the annual Dáil na nÓg. The young people were selected by Co Monaghan Comhairle na nÓg – the county's Youth Council – to represent the views of the young people of Monaghan.

Offaly: Christmas lights switched on in Tullamore
Santa arrived at 5.30pm and then the lights were officially switched on by Rebecca Colsh in O'Connor Square on Sunday evening, November 27. St Colmcille's Pipe Band and the Tullamore Town Band also performed.

Roscommon: Elphin Community Centre Christmas fundraising concert
Country gospel singer James Kilbane will bring his seasonal Christmas concert to Elphin on Sunday December 11th at 8p.m. in support of the ongoing work and fundraising for the refurbishment of the centre.

Sligo: Aussie ambassador has a g'day in Sligo
His Excellency Bruce Davis was on his first visit to Sligo this week attending a series of lectures at Sligo IT as part of Science Week and taking time out of his busy schedule to experience some of Sligo's key tourism attractions and get a real sense of the county and its people.

Tipperary: Nenagh Community Garden Set To Bloom
A new project is to be launched in Nenagh town over the next couple of weeks following the signing of a six-year lease between Nenagh Community Garden Project and Maureen Meagher of Cudville, Nenagh.

Tyrone: Grandparents go back to school!
The Primary 6 pupils at Blessed Patrick O'Loughran PS Castlecaulfield have been involved in an Intergenerational Project funded by the Live & Learn Project, National Museums, Northern Ireland.

Waterford: The Freeze On The Quays
the Christmas ice rink trend has arrived in Waterford in spectacular fashion. The new ice rink which will be located alongside Flowers by Lucy on Merchants Quay, will be open from December 1 through January 8.

Wexford: Island Bar tops in rural quiz
The quiz team from the Island Bar in Our Lady's Island proved they have a great grasp of general knowledge when they won the Guinness Rural Pub Quiz recently.

Wicklow: Mysterious sightings on Wicklow beaches
After the recent rain and stormy weather the Marine institute have recieved numerous calls and e-mails from beach walkers after the discovery of logs and trees, that have been washed up covered in small sea creatures. 


In memory of Oscar Wilde who passed away on November 30th. 1900:
"Don't give a woman advice; one should never give a woman anything she can't wear in the evening." 
An old classic that's well worth repeating:
The wise old Mother Superior from county Tipperary was dying. The nuns gathered around her bed trying to make her comfortable. They gave her some warm milk to drink, but she refused it. Then one nun took the glass back to the kitchen. Remembering a bottle of Irish whiskey received as a gift the previous Christmas, she opened and poured a generous amount into the warm milk. Back at Mother Superior's bed, she held the glass to her lips. Mother drank a little, then a little more. Before they knew it, she had drunk the whole glass down to the last drop. Mother," the nuns asked with earnest, "Please give us some wisdom before you leave us. "She raised herself up in bed with a pious look on her face and said, "Don't sell that cow."
A Kerryman gets on a bus and asks the driver how long the trip is  between Limerick to Cork. "About 2 hours," says the driver. "Well,"  says the Kerryman "then how long is the trip between Cork to Limerick?" The irate driver says "It's still about 2 hours, boyo. Why'd ye think there'd be a difference?" "Ah, ," says the Kerryman, "It's only a  week between Christmas and New Year's, but it it's an awfully  long time between New Year's and Christmas!"



 with thanks to Declan Barron

Many listers might not realise many of The Irish Manuscript Commission's
out-of-print books are now available online at

Especially of interest to those researching a landlord or gentry family is
King's Inns Admission Papers 1607-1867


Courtesy of the Society of Australian Genealogists newsletter...

A new, free website,, has been launched which offers access to a range of regularly updated maps from reputable sources such as the Ordnance Survey and Google. The sites offers a free toolkit which allows you to draw on the maps and to insert text and graphics. It also allows you to measure, style, colour and print finished maps or save them as PDFs.

Having selected a map to view, you can examine an area in which family members lived or create personalised maps showing, for example, the geographical movements of an individual family member, the distribution of different family members or the location of graves. You can also add information to maps from a range of layers grouped under various headings including 'heritage' and 'boundaries'.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Come here till I tell ya!
Memories from the Cuimhneamh an Chláir Archive

 Have you ever wished that you could sit awhile and listen to the stories of the older and wiser ones? Maybe you can't listen to those from your own family, but there still tales to be heard. Visit the site below and listen to what some of these wonderful folks have to share.
Hear the voices of some of Clare's oldest citizens, with recollections of a fading way of life in Clare.   

Cuimhneamh an Chláir 
The Clare Oral History and Folklore Group
Ph: 087 9160373

"When an old man dies, a library burns" - Senegalese Proverb


Courtesy of Gould Genealogy.......

British Newspaper Archive Website Goes Live

The British Newspaper Archive ( website is now live. That's right! We've known that it's been coming for ages, and it is finally here … That's 3,000,000 pages of historical British newspapers at your fingertips.
What makes the British Newspaper Archive project so special?
Well for a start it has made viewing old British newpapers accessible a whole lot easier for everyone worldwide. But to quote directly from BNA …
"we have scanned millions of pages of historical newspapers and made them available online for the first time ever. Search millions of articles by keyword, name, location, date or title and watch your results appear in an instant. Compare this with hours of painstaking manual searching through hard copies or microfilm often requiring a visit to the British Library in North London and it is easy to appreciate the ground breaking nature of this project."
Searching the
You can search by region, or by keyword.  The types of records you'll find are:
- News Articles:  read about national events, as well as issues of local and regional importance. News articles are your window into daily life in historical Britain.
- Family Notices: search for your family's birth, marriage and death notices plus related announcements including engagements, anniversaries, birthdays and congratulations.
- Letters: read letters to the editor written by the newspaper's readers, including illuminating contemporary debates, aspirations and anxieties.
- Obituaries view a wealth of contemporary information on the lives of notable individuals and ancestors.
- Advertisements: these include classifieds, shipping notices and appointments.
- Illustrations: see photographs, engravings, graphics, maps and editorial cartoons.
How much does it cost to use?
The all important question is how much does it cost to use. And at least in my option the rates look extremely reasonable.
For further details go to the link at the beginning of this article..
or ..              

There is quite a bit on Ireland on this site also.

Monday, 28 November 2011



Subject: Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery Limerick 
To whom it concerns
I am currently working on a project dealing with the evolution, development and social profile of Limerick's Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery. This cemetery was established in 1849 as an archetypal Victorian garden cemetery. Between 1855 (when burials began) and 2010, c. 70,000 individuals were interred in Mount St Lawrence.  Many were from County Clare.
The larger study of the cemetery over the 150+ years of its existence will cast light specifically on the thinking behind the establishment of the cemetery and on attitudes to death and its commemoration in urban Ireland from the mid-nineteenth century onwards and, more generally, on changing social and religious attitudes over time. It examines in the urban Irish context the transition from graveyard to cemetery, a large public park or ground laid out expressly for the interment of the dead. Reflecting developments in the broader western world, the establishment of Mount St. Lawrence represented the Limerick municipality's and local Catholic church's response to the pressure put on existing graveyards by the Famine and cholera epidemic of 1849.
Matthew Potter
Dr. Matthew Potter, B.A. (London), Ph.D (NUI Galway)
Fellow in the History of Urban Government
Department of History
Mary Immaculate College
South Circular Road
Limerick City
Tel:  + 00 (353) (61) 204520

N.B. If you have any queries or anything to add to the project, please contact Dr. Potter directly.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011



Irish Water Safety honours for teenage surfers who saved boy

The Irish Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2011
"LUCKY TO be alive" was how the father of nine-year-old Gearóid Rogers from Killaloe, Co Clare, described his son, who yesterday watched as two teenage surfers who dramatically saved him from drowning earlier this year were among recipients of Irish Water Safety Awards in Dublin Castle.
Bernard Cahill (17) and Donough Cronin (16), both from Ennis, were wading into shore after surfing at Spanish Point in July when they noticed Gearóid's mother Roz on the beach waving for help. When her son had been swept out by a rip current, Roz's husband Ger swam to save his son before becoming stranded himself.
For the full story, go to

Tuesday, 22 November 2011



Does your local community need funds for either Festivals or participative Events?  Then this could help you...

Subject: 2012 Fáilte Ireland Festival & Events Funding Programmes
The call for applications for the 2012 Festivals and Participative Events Initiative has been advertised in yesterday's Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner (advert attached).  Please check for the basic info on the scheme and to download the application guidelines.
·                There are two grant schemes, the National Programme and the Regional Programme.  Difference between two programmes is outlined on
·                Applications to the National Programme are made online, see
·                Applications to the Regional Programme must be made by email.  Please find attached the application guidelines and the application form for the Regional Programme.
·                The eligibility criteria and the evaluation criteria for both schemes are outlined on and described in greater detail in the application guidelines.

Siobhan King 
Tourism Executive Co. Clare 

Monday, 21 November 2011



From Clara Hoyne, Secretary Clare Roots Society Nov 21 2011

A picture with a poignant story from today's Irish Times.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Haven't you wished that Someone would write a history of the Irish parish your family came from?

I sure have, and that Someone, for all of us with family from Kilmaley, Co Clare, is John Mayer... John wasn't satisfied with a small snapshot in time, he has researched and listed a vast number of families from the Kilmaley Parish, dating back over 200 years. This book is a must if you want to follow marriages and baptisms, some immigration and other assorted gems of information, whatever he was able to find in his extensive research. He doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but there sure are a lot of them.

There are photos, excerpts from Census returns, and so many family names with previously hard to find details ... This would be a great addition to any research library. The amount of time John has put into this book is amazing... and will be of great assistance to so many.

FAMILIES OF KILMALEY PARISH... A Two-Hundred Year Review....

 For details on the book and cost within Northern America, please go to and search for Kilmaley, or use this tiny URL to go directly.

 You may also be able to order for all countries from here.  If not, please contact John at dundeemayer at comcast dot net  He will give you details re PayPal.

For those without Paypal, you can use a cashiers cheque or money order.

For Australia, the cost of this missive is $50 including postage.

 Now, if only all Parishes were so fortunate... be sure to let John know where you heard about his book.

From a very satisfied researcher....

Liz Haren  Nov 27, 2011
"Yay! I just got my Kilmaley book!! It is huge!!! And it has my Haren's all over it. I'm thrilled. "

 Let me know what you think of the book...

Saturday, 19 November 2011

"The Last Grasp" -- Ireland in 1584 -- video

IRISH CHATTER... this really fits this blog's concept of As They Were
The Last Grasp
Ireland, 1584: 'In the aftermath of a cattle-raid into enemy territory two Gaelic-Irish warriors - a light infantry kern and a mailed galloglass - are despatched to comb the woods for stragglers…' The primary thinking behind Claíomh making this short film was to showcase the potential of museum-quality archaeological reproductions when utilised with modern media - in this case relating to 16th century Gaelic-Ireland when native Irish traditions were at their zenith. Set against an environment of what was the most commonly pursued 'sport' at the time i.e. cattle-raiding, and while promoting awareness of an archaeologically accurate portrayal of the visual appearance of Late Medieval Gaelic warriors - the production also lightly touches upon the complicated political situation in Ireland at the time. As a zero-budget pilot `The Last Grasp' was shot within a couple of hours on entirely a voluntary basis with the aim to make vividly assessable this fascinating and rich depository of Irish heritage to a wider audience beyond the conventional confines of academia. Claíomh regards film as a forum into which latest archaeological and historical research can be utilised to harness a realistic graphic to provide a window into Ireland's history and in so doing to create an artistic whole. As short films, 'The Last Grasp' as well as our 1640's themed 'The Flag', represent proto-steps in what is hoped will be a long journey of discovery in the medium. Reconstructed artefacts featured in this film include swords from Co Offaly (Ballylin) and Co Galway (one each from the River Corrib – near Galway City - and the River Suck – near Ballinasloe), and a `sparth' axe from Co Tyrone (River Blackwater, Clonteevy). The sets of clothing worn by the characters are copied from contemporary illustrations such as the anonymous `Drawn on the quick' (c.1544) kept in the Ashmoleum Museum in Oxford and Albrecht Dürer's `Thus go the soldiers of Ireland, beyond England…' (1521) at the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen in Berlin. The film was shot in Ireland in Autumn 2010 by members of Claíomh with the invaluable assistance of Josh Plunkett, Alan Mac Úa hAlpine, and Rob Hunt. The primeval soundtrack was specially composed and performed by Brian Conniffe. It's first appearance was at the Experimental Cinema of the Hunter Moon Fest in Carrick-on-Shannon in October 2011. Keep the HQ lights on! Sláinte/DS
Length: ‎5:06



A quick note to let you know that we have been able to employ someone to update the Young Irelanders website
and insert the photos of Young Irelander sites around Tasmania.
The photos, taken in the mid-1990s, were kindly provided by Peter O'Shaughnessy.
(The new photos are in the Locations and map section of the website.)

The website is at
(and the wiki is at )

Beverly Goldfarb
Manager, Faculty of Arts Flexible Education Office
Faculty of Arts
Locked bag 1-340
University of Tasmania
Launceston TAS 7250

Ph: (03) 6324 3646
Fax: (03) 6324 3652


Friday, 18 November 2011

CLARE ROOTS SOCIETY Drumcliff Stage 2 (Calvary Section)

Clare Roots Society under the direction of John Bradley are about to commence stage 2 (Calvary) of recording the gravestones.
This will entail:
Receiving a map of your section.
Photographing Gravestones:
Transcribing inscriptions to a word document.
Returning to manually recording unreadable headstones.
We need approximately 11 individual (or couples) willing to take on a section of 50 graves approximately. A brief session will take place for all participants prior to commencing. We would hope to have it completed by the end of January. You would carry out the recording at a suitable time to yourself.
Unfortunately Clare County Council have mislaid 10 years of records within this section of the Cemetery so our work will be of immense value to future generations. 
You can view our previous work with regard to Drumcliff at:
Thanking all in advance:
Clara Hoyne.

 N.B. Don't forget the fantastic book on Drumcliff Cemetery is available through the Clare Roots Society as per 

 You can read all about it on the above link. It is far more than a list of names...


Your thoughts? Please feel free to comment below...

The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS)
Press Release
18 November 2011
Archive and library reform moves worry genealogists
The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) is concerned that a
so-called merger of the National Archives "into" the National Library
could diminish these vital heritage services.
Steven Smyrl, IGRS chairman, says that while the IGRS recognises the
need for savings across the board in Irish public services, it is
concerned that with two bodies under one director, competition for
resources could be fierce.
"The proposed area of control is simply too vast, whether or not, as the
Government proposes, both institutions are to retain their separate
identities. The Government's plan is further complicated by reference to
the possible sharing of services between the National Library and the
National Museum which could dilute the services still further."
Smyrl acknowledges that there are savings to be made through the pooling
of public services resources. "Conservation and administration are just
two such areas that immediately spring to mind, but while libraries and
museums might appear to be similar they are actually very different
service providers.
"Staff trained in the care and control of archive materials require
quite different skills to those working in a library and economies of
scale will not be found by requiring flexibility from staff to work
across borders in the proposed new set-up. It is crucial that specialist
knowledge and training be recognised as essential in service delivery at
national institutions. The historians, academics, researchers and
genealogists using them rely heavily upon the staff's expertise and
"The IGRS welcomes the Government's initiative to see where savings can
be made but advises caution if irreparable damage to public service is
to be avoided. "

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


With thanks to Christina Hunt and all her volunteers

New files in IGP Archives in the first half of November. 

This is for all of Ireland and I thought some of you might find something of interest.

*We have also added some transcriptions for grave stone contributions
in Monaghan and Longford.

Antrim Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1842 Royal Irish Constabulary

Armagh Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1842 Royal Irish Constabulary

Carlow Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1842 Royal Irish Constabulary

Cork Genealogy Archives
Cork 1842 Royal Irish Constabulary

Clare Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1842 Royal Irish Constabulary

Cavan Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1842 Royal Irish Constabulary

Dublin Genealogy Archives - Headstones - Glasnevin,
Glasnevin Part 8

Galway Genealogy Archives - Land
Encumbered Estate property of CHARLES BLAKE, Esq. (Tonroe) 1852

Mayo Genealogy Archives - Land
Encumbered Estate property of CHARLES BLAKE, Esq. (Tourard,
Killeenrevagh, Gortskehy) 1852

Monaghan Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
First Presbyterian Church, Ballybay

Roscommon Genealogy Archives - Cemetery Records
Walsh Family, old churchyard, Drum, Athlone

Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous Records
Pawnbrokers 1827- 1837

Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Photos
Monsea Cemetery & Church Ruins

Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Moycarkey Graveyard (5 images)
Patrick Collins, Davy Thomas, Jeremiah Gleeson - (single headstones)

Wexford Genealogy Archives
- Headstones.
Gorey; Christ Church Graveyard (Church of Ireland)

Wexford Genealogy Archives - Directories
New Ross & Wexford 1820-1822 Directories

Wexford Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1845 Royal Irish Constabulary

Wicklow Genealogy Archives
- Military
Wicklow 1845 Royal Irish Constabulary


Tuesday, 15 November 2011


We often complain about the lack of records for Irish research, but now there is so much being released due to the work of volunteers, as well as some of the paid sites.

As many of you know, I'm involved with Clare Roots Society and am so pleased to be associated with this hard working group. One of the most recent achievements has been the documenting of around 2,000 records from the Clare Castle/Ballyea  churches... see full details below.

This book looks to be going to it's second print, which is fantastic... it sells for €10 plus postage, and was under €5 to post to Australia...

However, to go ahead with the second print, we really need names of those who genuinely would like a copy of the book. If you are one of those, could you please contact Clara Hoyne, secretary of the CRS (Clare Roots Society) at

 Clara  Hoyne <>

Clara will be able to help you with further details. Perhaps you could also tell Clara where you heard about this book.

Clare Castle / Ballyea – The Parish Remembers
2 November 2011 saw the launch of a book written and compiled by Eric Shaw entitled Clare Castle / Ballyea – The Parish Remembers. In conjunction with Clare Roots Society, Eric has documented all the readable gravestone inscriptions in Clare Abbey, Clare Hill, Killoo, Killone, and Ballyea & Clare Castle Churches. These amount to about 2,000 records, some dating from the late 1600s. The book will help to preserve the inscriptions and to make them available for family history research. It will also help to draw visitors and fits in with development plans to promote the attractions of the Parish.


Saturday, 12 November 2011



The Irish Times is running a great series of articles entitled "A History of Ireland in 100 Objects"

You can follow the series from the link above, but this is just a small excerpt I hope you find it as interesting as I do.

A history of Ireland in 100 objects 

The Irish Times - Saturday, September 24, 2011 FINTAN O'TOOLE Moylough Belt Shrine, eighth century

Objects such as the Ardagh Chalice or the Derrynaflan Paten are obviously very special. They belonged to a social and ecclesiastical elite. They were used rarely, if at all. But what was ordinary religion like? How did most people interact with the world of the saints? This unique shrine gives us some sense of popular faith and ritual.
Discovered by turfcutters in a bog in Co Sligo, the shrine is made up of four hinged copper-alloy plates, each enclosing a fragment of a simple leather belt. The belt clear- ly belonged to a popular early saint. The bog at Moylough, where it was found, is not far from the site of an early monastery at Carrowntemple, so there may well be a con- nection to this holy place.
The shrine is itself in the form of a belt: the two front plates form a false "buckle" whose frames are decorated with bird and animal heads and end in elaborate glass pieces. The overall impression is somewhat dulled now: originally, the belt would have been a riot of colour, with shiny silver panels, blue and white glass studs, and red and yellow enamel borders.
What's particularly interesting about the shrine, though, is that it was not kept in some monastic treasury, away from the ordinary believers. The patterns of wear on its surfaces show that it was much used. And what was it used for? Miracles and blessings.
There is something very intimate in the way this relic was deployed. The hinges and the wear and tear show that it was actually placed around the bodies of devotees.
Monks themselves regarded the belts of their holy predecessors as a form of spiritual protection. One Irish monk in Austria wrote that "the girdle of Finnan" protected him "against disease, against anxiety, against the charms of foolish women". Presumably, the devotee hoped to gain this same protection, at least against the first of these evils.

Saints' belts even acquired a frankly magical aura. In a Scots Gaelic legend, the hero MacUalraig uses the "magic belt of Saint Fillan" to capture a water nymph.
The Moylough Belt Shrine was probably placed around the bodies of supplicants who came with all sorts of illnesses, wounds and deformities.
But there is a particularly strong early-mediaeval tradition in western Europe of the belts or girdles of saints being placed around the waist of a woman undergoing a dif- ficult childbirth. There are later records of the purported girdles of Sts Joseph, Mar- garet of Antioch, Brigid and many others being used in this way.
The elaborate nature of the Moylough Belt Shrine makes it highly unlikely that it was actually used for women in labour, but it most probably was placed on pregnant women as a blessing to ensure safe childbirth.
It reminds us that, for all the sophistication of early Irish Christianity, for most people religion still functioned as it always had, as a way of trying to control an unpre- dictable and often frightening world.

Thanks to Raghnall Ó Floinn

Where to see it The Treasury, National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, 01-6777444,