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The Shrine of St. Patrick's Tooth, December 1996


The National Museum, Dublin

As part of a school project, I wrote a letter to the National Museum of Ireland to get information on archaeological artifacts found in Co. Galway and especially near Athenry. I got a reply from Dr. Felicity Devlin, Education Officer in the Museum.

She gave me a list of objects which were found in Co. Galway. In her list of objects she mentioned the “Shrine of St. Patrick’s Tooth” also called “Fiacail Pádraig”. It was made in the 12th century to contain the tooth of St. Patrick which is recorded to have fallen from his mouth on the door steps of the church of St. Brone in Carbury, Co. Sligo. It was then later restored in the 14th century for Thomas de Bermingham, Baron of Athenry who died in 1736.

The reliquary or shrine is of silver, about 12 inches by 9.5 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick, shaped like a shield, but having a round base. The top has an openwork cresting and both front and back are decorated with figures in relief, filigree work, and settings of crystal, glass and amber.

On the front is an ornamental crossbar with a crystal in the centre; above this is a Crucifixion, and below a figure of St. Patrick. Each quarter is filled by the figure of two saints, including Benon, Columbkille, Brandon, and Brigid (the figure of the last is missing but the name remains). The back bears a decorated cross, with enlarged centre and ends, surrounded by ecclesiastical figures and a harper.

See  more  here The Shrine of St. Patrick’s Tooth

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Written by Fiona Coffey

Published here 13 Jan 2023 and originally published December 1996

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