Home / About Us / News / October 2018 / Donegal Gold goes on display at the National Museum of Ireland

Donegal Gold goes on display at the National Museum of Ireland

The hoard of gold, which goes on public display at the National Museum of Ireland from today, is among the heaviest hoards of gold on record to be discovered in Ireland.


Investigations by experts at the National Museum of Ireland have confirmed that the four gold rings unearthed in Donegal earlier this year date to the late Bronze Age.  The hoard of gold, which goes on public display at the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology from today, is among the heaviest hoards of gold on record to be discovered in Ireland.

Donegal TD and Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, joined the finders of the gold and Museum representatives at the National Museum of Ireland Archaeology, Kildare Street to launch the exhibition.

The four gold rings, weighing just over 4KG in total, will complement the Museum’s permanent gold exhibition, Ór – Ireland’s Gold, which showcases one of the largest and most significant collections of Bronze Age gold internationally.

It was also announced today that the gold, which was discovered in a field in Tullydonnell Lower in East Donegal, will go on temporary loan to the Donegal County Museum next year.

Now known as the ‘Tullydonnell Hoard’, the gold has undergone investigations by experts at the National Museum of Ireland over the last number of months. The Museum’s Keeper of Irish Antiquities, Maeve Sikora revealed that the gold was discovered in excellent condition: “Our conservation staff have conducted extensive analysis of the gold and the results indicate that this hoard dates to the late Bronze Age, between approximately 1200BC and 800BC. The objects were discovered in perfect condition.”

Ms Sikora explained that while the gold overlapping rings are circular in shape, it is not possible to accurately determine their use: “They’ve been described as ‘arm bands’ because of their size, but it is thought more likely that gold was shaped in this fashion as a means to store wealth,” she said.

Minister Joe McHugh paid tribute to the finders of the hoard, and to Donegal County Museum, who collaborated with the National Museum of Ireland on the discovery: “I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I never knew Donegal was considered to be a particularly active area during the Bronze Age. This discovery is so exciting for Donegal because it gives us a rare and important insight into the history of our country, and it’s equally important for Ireland in that it adds to our already extensive collection of artefacts from this fascinating era.

“On behalf of the Government, I want to thank the finders for their assistance in preserving this collection for the people of Ireland. I’m delighted that the gold will go on display in Donegal next year and I’d encourage as many people as possible to visit it when it’s on loan to Donegal County Museum,” he said.

The Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Lynn Scarff, said the launch of the Tullydonnell Hoard exhibition coincides with the introduction of extended opening hours across the National Museum of Ireland’s four sites: “We’re delighted to announce that you can now visit the National Museum of Ireland every day of the week. Admission to all our sites, and exhibitions, are free and the Tullydonnell Hoard is just the latest addition to the thousands of rare and beautiful artefacts that we are proud to add to our National collection and exhibit at our Archaeology museum on Kildare St.”  

Judith McCarthy Curator of the Donegal County Museum said the unearthing of the Tullydonnell Hoard was a unique and significant find not only for Donegal but for Ireland; “We were delighted to be able to assist both the finders and the National Museum of Ireland with this discovery. Donegal has a very rich and varied history stretching back thousands of years and the Tullydonnell Hoard forms an important part of this multi-faceted story,” she said.

Chair of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland, Catherine Heaney, said: “From discovery to the exhibition, the expertise in the National Museum of Ireland ensures that important artefacts from our past - like the Tullydonnell Hoard - are conserved and protected for the enjoyment and education of generations to come.”