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Irish High Crosses 2010


Irish High Crosses

Replicas of Irish High Crosses to be exhibited at the

National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History

Collins Barracks, Dublin


Join the National Museum of Ireland as it displays for the first time six casts of High Crosses along with a selection of Irish early Christian treasures. It is through the media of replicas that metalwork’s such as the Ardagh Chalice, Tara Brooch and the Cross of Cong can be positioned next to illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and occupying the same space as six of the most prised masonry feats of the Golden Age. The exhibition seeks to draw all strands of The Golden Age together in one room and following in a 100 year old museum tradition it employs replicas to communicate to the audience these three sister schools of craft which has produced some of the finest art known in West Europe.

Meet with:

Director of the National Museum of Ireland – Dr Patrick Wallace

Staff from the Antiquities Division and Conservation Department at the National Museum of Ireland, who have been involved with the project.


30th June - Wednesday




The Riding School at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7

Photo Opportunities

• A unique opportunity to view/photograph in one location six casts of Irish High Crosses, which portray some of the finest examples of Early Christian sculpture in Ireland, which range in date from the ninth to the twelfth centuries A.D They include two crosses from Ahenny, Co. Tipperary, two from Monasterboice, Co Louth and individual crosses from Drumcliffe, Co Sligo and Dysart O’Dea, Co Clare. The centrepiece is the 6.5 meter high West Cross from Monasterboice, the tallest high cross in Ireland

Notes to the Editor:

• In recent years the High Crosses were used to represent Ireland at the Expo exhibition in Japan, continuing a tradition of using reproductions to teach people about ancient times and places. Dr. Patrick Wallace commented on the significance of these casts as highlighting the best examples of Christian sculpture in early medieval Europe, the Irish High Cross being both unique and iconic.

• More than two million visitors saw them in Japan - Now they can be seen at Collins Barracks.

• The National expert on Irish High Crosses Dr Peter Harbison will speak at the launch.

• In the 19th and 20th centuries there was a growing interest in heritage and archaeology across Europe. Enthusiasts began to make reproductions of ancient objects to educate audiences at home and abroad. Of all the Irish reproductions made at this time, the most impressive are the plaster-of-Paris casts made of the Irish High Crosses, copies of which were transported to England, America and Australia. Through the study of insular art in the 19th and 20th century grew an appreciation of the artistic and cultural potential of the inhabitants of Ireland. By looking into the past, and especially beyond the Anglo-Norman invasion, Irish people recognised a cultural heritage other than one linked to the British Empire which would become a source of inspiration for not only nationalists but scholars and artisans alike. The High Cross became a visual icon of Irishness, as did the harp, Irish wolfhound or round tower, to a school of thought that produced such poets such Yeats, sports men such as Michael Cusack and nationalists such as those involved in 1916.

• The High Crosses are among the greatest examples of how powerful religious communities supported and encouraged art in Early Christian Ireland. An insular Irish art form developed from Scandinavian and Continental influences and executed by highly skilled artists working in metal, velum and wood as well as stone. This period is now looked upon as The Golden Age of Early Irish Art. This is the only exhibition in which the full spectrum of the art work of Ireland’s Golden Age (8th-11th century) can be viewed in a single room. Many of techniques employed in The Golden Age schools of art have been lost and few can be emulated by modern stonemasons and metal smiths. It is therefore only through replication that the combined artistry exhibited on these National Treasures can be communicated to what has become a global audience.

The Irish High Cross opens to the public from Thursday 1st July 2010 and will run as a Temporary Exhibition until Spring/Summer 2011

The National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7

is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 2pm to 5pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays and Bank Holidays. ADMISSION is FREE OF CHARGE.


Maureen Gaule, Marketing Department, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks

T: 01 648 6429 | M: 087 2075133 | E:

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