I am getting a copy of Fintan O Toole’s A History of Ireland in 100 Objects as an Xmas present, I cant wait. The book like the title says tells the history of Ireland through 100 artefacts. The chosen objects take us through the history of people in Ireland over 7,000 years, from a simple fish trap of the earliest inhabitants of the island to the first mass-produced microprocessor.
Off the back of this book there is a historic trail which allows the visitor to go and see the objects at the museums they are housed at. Last week as I happened to be in Carlow for the launch of the Carlow Archaeological and Historical Society Journal Carloviana, I began the trail with object No 85 which is housed at the Carlow County Museum.
The trail does not demand you to start with any one object and it really allows you to dip in and out at your own leisure.
So what is object No 85? Well its a large pulpit approx 6m tall which once stood in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow town which is coincidentally next door to the museum. The pulpit is made of oak, it was designed by CJ Buckley of Youghal and made by craftsmen in Bruges ( Belgium) in around 1898 to coincide with renovation to the Cathedral ( built in 1830s).
The panels are decorated with scenes of saints preaching, angels and the stair railing at the back has a very pretty tree and bird design.
The Museum Curator Dermot Mulligan kindly brought me to see where the pulpit originally stood within the Cathedral church. He told me that despite a lot of objection from local people the pulpit was removed during renovations during the 1990’s and sometime late became part of the museum collection.
The original location of the pulpit was on the right hand side of the church beside the pillar nearest the altar. Close to the here is the location of the bishops chair which has a similar style as the pulpit. The chair was commissioned at the same time as the pulpit and also made in Bruge.
It is nice to see that despite the removal from the church there are still links to pulpit (which is in the museum) as the modern pulpit has miniature carvings based on figures from the original.
No 85 of the Ireland in 100 historic objects is well worth a visit and if you take your time when viewing it, you will discover lots of stories and themes in its carvings. I would recommend along with the visit to Carlow County Museum that you also visit the Cathedral as it allows you to better imagine how the pulpit looked in its original location.
I am looking forward to checking out some of the other objects in the coming months.
Carlow County Museum http://www.museum.ie/en/list/history-of-ireland-in-100-objects.aspx
Ireland in a 100 Objects http://www.100objects.ie/