Dr Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh

Commissioned Researchers, The Fermanagh 100

Dr Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh is the commissioned researcher for the Devenish High Cross.

Jenifer_Photo

Dr Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh is a freelance art historian specialising in Irish medieval art. She is the author of numerous articles on Irish high crosses and on the Irish Romanesque, and co-editor of two books, The March in the Islands of the Medieval West (Brill, 2012) and Envisioning Christ on the Cross: Ireland and the early medieval West (Four Courts, 2013).

Devenish High Cross

Medieval Maguires, The Fermanagh 100

Dr Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh details the significance of the Devenish High Cross – possibly commissioned during the reign of Cúchonnacht Maguire, king of Fermanagh, who died in 1537

Devenish High Cross is one of the most ambiguous monuments at any Irish monastic site. Most high crosses in Ireland date to the ninth or tenth centuries, a handful to the twelfth. But a single glance is enough to confirm that the Cross at Devenish has little or nothing to do with these monuments of pre-Norman Ireland. Not that it is easy to get to Devenish to achieve such a glance, all the more so in the depths of winter, when the isolation of the island beyond the choppy waters of Lough Erne and the fine fresh breeze and plunging temperatures ensure that no tourist boat is available to ensure ease of access. My initial thoughts on the cross depended on my trawling through the photographs and slides I had taken when visiting Devenish in 2003 in the course of my thesis research, a time when the cost of photographic film was a substantial hindrance to any too flathúlach recording of the cross on my own part. Its enigmatic profile was just visible in my photographs of the twelfth-century round tower, but I felt positively at a disadvantage compared to the gravely besuited antiquarians shown gathered round it in the nineteenth-century photographs from Fermanagh County Museum. At least with those exposure times, their visual memories of the cross cannot have faded as fast as my own! One rather bitterly cold boat trip later, and I felt ready really to get to grips with my subject.

First questions first: is it really a cross at all? Or is it a nineteenth-century concoction of a broken bit of window tracery coupled with an unrelated sculpted shaft? After all, the ‘cross’ was found in three pieces, base, shaft and head, in 1874. But a close examination of the ends of the cross arms show that despite overall similarities in form and construction to window tracery, the head of the cross is ornamented on every side: there is no uncarved part which could have been intended to sit against another piece of stone. Without doubt, the head is, and always was, a freestanding object. One wacky theory down, another to go: could it have been atop the gable of the church, rather than atop the shaft, originally? This is a bit more tricky to disprove. On the one hand, it is now joined to the shaft with mortar, and it doesn’t appear as though the joints fit together particularly well – and many crosses as they now stand are in fact composed of disparate parts, such as the high cross at Clones, Co. Monaghan. On the other hand, the pieces are the same dimensions, which is rather a coincidence if they were not intended to go together. And there is no doubt that the carving is all by the same hand, while the iconography of both parts match: large vine leaves, which reference both the Tree of Life, and the Eucharistic element of Christ’s sacrifice, are shown on both shaft and head.

Let’s take it then that it is a cross, and that it stands now substantially as it did when first erected. But when was that? Clearly it was at the same time as the small but elaborate north doorway of the chancel of St Mary’s was carved, and also the window now in the church at Monea. Bizarrely, these doorways seem to have no comparisons with sculpture elsewhere in Ulster, but are remarkably similar to three doorways in county Kilkenny, at Fertagh, Tullaroan and St Canice’s. This suggests a date of c.1520-40 for the work at Devenish. This may place it in the reign of Cúchonnacht Maguire, king of Fermanagh, who died in 1537, and who had made a silver chalice for another church of which only the base, now in the National Museum of Ireland, still remains. It is just possible that he is the figure shown on the lower south side of the cross – patrons sometimes could be shown in such a subsidiary position.

The motivations of the patron for ordering a cross for Devenish are no longer knowable – was he trying to emulate contemporary gentry in county Meath, the Plunkett family for instance, who were setting up memorial crosses at this time? Or was he trying to “restore” Devenish with an ancient cross, that unlike Kells or Armagh, it never had had? Whatever his intentions, the sculptors who were called upon to make this unique monument seem to have looked to various sources to try and come up with a design: tomb slabs, metalwork crosses, and even perhaps the Throne of Grace. The Throne of Grace usually shows God the Father seated behind the Crucifixion, supporting the Son, and may explain the otherwise inexplicable face which appears at the apex of the cross looking out at us above the Crucifixion. One way or the other, the patron and sculptors between them came up with something absolutely unique in form with Devenish Cross. That its detailing and iconography can be traced to a flourishing workshop of late Gothic sculpture operating otherwise almost entirely in and around Kilkenny means that this analysis leaves more questions unanswered than answered – why and how were they working in Fermanagh? That remains to be answered…

Dr Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh 2015

Dr Hiram Morgan

Commissioned Researchers, The Fermanagh 100

 Dr Hiram Morgan is the commissioned researcher for the Flight of the Earls Manuscript and the Captain Lee Portrait. 

Hiram Morgan

 

Born in Belfast in 1960, Hiram Morgan was educated at St Catharine’s College Cambridge and now teaches at University College Cork. He has written Tyrone’s Rebellion (Royal Historical Society, 1993) and has edited Political Ideology in Ireland, 1541-1641 (Dublin, 1999), Information, Media and Power through the Ages (Dublin, 2001) and the Battle of Kinsale (Bray, 2004). He was a founder and co-editor of History Ireland, Ireland’s illustrated history magazine. He is director of CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts of Ireland and is currently working on a biography of Hugh O’Neill, earl of Tyrone, for publication by the Royal Irish Academy.

Trimble & The Ulster Covenant

The Fermanagh 100, The Objects

Philip Orr details the significance of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant and the Fermanagh link through the Trimble family. 

Ulster Covenant signed by W. Trimble ©Fermanagh County Museum

Ulster Covenant signed by W. Trimble ©Fermanagh County Museum

Souvenir copies of the Solemn League and Covenant were to be found in many Unionist homes throughout Fermanagh in the years after this famous political document had been signed. The Covenant was a pledge taken by the majority of Ulster’s Unionist population on 28th September 1912, promising resistance to the British government’s plans for a devolved government in Ireland, situated in Dublin. Unionists felt that Home Rule would harm their religious, economic and political well-being.

The signature on this copy belongs to William Egbert Trimble, who in 1912 was working as a young man in the family business, which consisted of the popular Enniskillen-based newspaper, The Impartial Reporter. Egbert’s father had been involved in political causes for a long time, including land reform. By 1912 he was an ardent Unionist member of the Urban Council and in the summer of that year he formed the Enniskillen Horse, which would style itself as the local ‘cavalry’ of the Ulster Volunteer Force, which was set up by the Ulster Unionist Council in the following year to resist Home Rule.

In 18th September 1912, a huge political rally was held in the town, addressed by the Unionist leader Sir Edward Carson. Then on 28th September, known to Unionists as Ulster Day, men and women throughout the county put their name to the Covenant at a variety of venues. As the Unionist cause was almost entirely supported by Protestants, church halls and Orange Halls were often the venues. In Enniskillen the main location for signing the document was the Town Hall. Throughout the day, the list of signatures steadily lengthened. Women had their own pledge known as The Declaration, which expressed similar sentiments. During Ulster Day, church services were also held, to seek divine aid in the struggle to defeat Home Rule, as expressed in the deeply religious text of the Covenant itself.

The document was regarded with a mixture of bemusement and dislike by the Nationalist majority in the county. They saw no reason for Protestants to fear devolution and looked forward to the arrival of an Irish parliament as the fulfilment of a long-held aspiration. They were troubled by the Covenant’s vow to use ‘all means which may be found necessary’ to achieve its objectives.

By the summer of 1914 the Ulster Volunteer Force had been matched by an Irish Volunteer militia dedicated to the implementation of Home Rule. When the First World War broke out in August, Fermanagh, like much of Ulster, was on the brink of civil war.

Movement and Migration

The Fermanagh 100, The Objects

These items represent the Movement and Migration section of the Fermanagh 100.

1. Lough Erne Steam Locomotive

“Lough Erne” is a railway locomotive built for a Fermanagh railway and named after Fermanagh’s famous waterways. “Lough Erne” is the last of its type, one of the last two conventional steam locomotives built for an Irish Railway. The engine was built for the last privately owned railway in the British Isles, all other systems having been nationalised by that time; post 1948.

Commissioned Researcher: Alan Devers

Lough Erne Steam Locomotive Name Plate. Copyright Fermanagh County Museum.

Lough Erne Steam Locomotive Name Plate.  ©Fermanagh County Museum.

2. Bone Shaker Bicycle

Fermanagh County Museum

This bicycle is quite dinstinctive due to the colour of the wheels which are black and yellow.  It was nicknamed the ‘Bone Shaker’. Newspaper article published by ‘The Impartial Reporter’ on 30/12/1971. The bicycle was imported by the Singer Co. England and was owned and used by Dr. John Reid of Rockfield, Florencourt. He bought it while he was a student at T.C.D.  and used while conducting his medical practices at Florencecourt in the 1870s.

Commissioned Researcher: Jenny Cathcart

Bone Shaker Bicylce ©Fermanagh County Museum

Bone Shaker Bicylce ©Fermanagh County Museum

3. Lough Erne clinker-built rowing boat

Fermanagh County Museum (model of a clinker boat)

Clinker built yawls were introduced to the North coast in late 1700s and spread around the coast of Donegal to Donegal Bay. Yawls similar to these were used on Lough Erne in the late 1800s and early 1900s and may have been introduced from Donegal Bay. Ballyshannon was the port for Fermanagh and through Belleek and Lower Lough Erne goods were often transported to Enniskillen.

Commissioned Researcher: Fred Ternan

Model Clinker Boat ©Fermanagh County Museum

Model Clinker Boat ©Fermanagh County Museum

4. Charlotte Medal

The Charlotte medal is regarded as Australia’s first colonial work of art. On one side, it depicts the ship resting at anchor in Botany Bay and, on the other, precise details, in terms of latitude and longitude, about the major places they either passed or stopped at during the eight-month voyage. Fermanagh man, John White, surgeon-general of the First Flee commissioned Thomas Barrett, a forfer, to engrave a medal celebrating the ship’s safe arrival in Botany Bay on 20 January 1788

5. Barton spoon

Fermanagh County Museum

The Barton spoon was made in 1761 and has the initials J.S. engraved on it. The initials J.S. identify the silversmith as John Shiels, (also Sheils) who at that time was in his final year of apprenticeship to Robert Calderwood, a highly regarded Irish silversmith. Shiels worked from 1762-1790 on upper Ormonde Quay in the centre of Dublin. On the front of the spoon is the crest of the Barton family – a boar’s head – and the script initials H B. Thomas Barton (1553-1626), originally from Norwich in Norfolk (Trimble, 1919, 1, 182) was the first Barton to settle in north Fermanagh.

Barton Spoon ©Fermanagh County Museum

Barton Spoon ©Fermanagh County Museum

Commissioned Researcher: Helen Lanigan Wood

6. Knockninny: Belleek Plate

Private Ownership

This plate, of which only a handful of copies remain, was commissioned by the  Knockninny Hotel, one of Fermanagh’s first tourist hotels. Located approximately ten miles upstream of Enniskillen and the same distance from Belturbet further upstream near the head of the upper lake, it nestles on the banks of Upper Lough Erne with the imposing Knockninny Hill at its rear. The plate was made at the world-renowned Belleek Pottery Works, although its precise origins remain unclear.

Commissioned Researcher: Marion Maxwell

7. Emigration Object

To be decided

Commissioned Researcher: Frank McHugh

8. Gaol doors/keys/skull

Fermanagh County Museum

The County Gaol was built between 1812-1815 at the Gallows Green. It was built to house 120 prisoners. It was designed by Richard Morrison, who created a cruciform block surrounded by a high wall. The gaol was later extended c.1850.The area assumed the name Gaol Square & Gaol Street – running from the Gaol to the East Bridge.Executions were not common, but when held where over the steps leading to the entrance door of the prison. The last public executions were on 9 August 1849 when huge crowds gathered to see Thomas Kerr & Thomas Wilson hung for committing murder.

Gaol Doors ©Fermanagh County Museum

Gaol Doors ©Fermanagh County Museum

Gaol Doors ©Fermanagh County Museum

Gaol Doors ©Fermanagh County Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Mischief half boat design. (Fairy yacht 1905-07)

Fermanagh County Museum

Owned and designed by Henry (Jack) Tipping of Rossferry on the Upper Lough. The Mischief was built by Enniskillen yacht builder Charlie McCabe (c.1840-1917). She was one of a number of boats he built and rated 20 tons for racing handicap purposes. her rating length was 37.45 ft (longer again overall), beam 12.4 ft and depth of hull 5ft with an Erne type of lifting keel, as shown on the model; the first type of centreboard to be used in Europe. The ‘Doris,’ designed by George L Watson was regarded as unbeatable, but was beaten in 1887 by the Mischief in Dublin.

Commissioned Researcher: Michael Clarke

Mischief Half Boat Design ©Fermanagh County Museum

Mischief Half Boat Design ©Fermanagh County Museum

10. 18th c Penal crosses. Lough Derg pilgrimage

Fermanagh County Museum & Private Ownership

Lough Derg Pilgrimage Crosses were carved by local people in the vicinity of the pilgrimage and dated the year they were made. They would have been blessed by the pilgrimage clergy and were symbols indicating that the individual had completed the arduous religious undertaking which included fasting, barefoot prayer on stony ground and a death and rebirth experience involving an all-night vigil. People attended this pilgrimage and other pilgrimages for many reasons such as their own personal salvation, relief from sickness, success in business or marriage etc.

Commissioned Researcher: John Cunningham

Penal Cross owned by Mrs Ann Cunnigham. Copyright Fermanagh County Museum.

Penal Cross owned by Mrs Ann Cunnigham. Copyright Fermanagh County Museum.

Elizabeth Crooke

Commissioned Researchers, The Fermanagh 100

Elizabeth Crooke is the commissioned researcher for the O’Carolan Skull and Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry Letters.

Turner Prize react

Elizabeth Crooke is professor of heritage and museum studies at Ulster University and is responsible for their postgraduate programmes in museums and heritage. She has published on the history of the archaeology collection in the National Museum of Ireland as well as many articles on the meaning of collections, display and the purpose of museums.

Connection and Division

The Fermanagh 100, The Objects

These items represent the Connection and Division section of the Fermanagh 100.

 

1. Macrame Bag made on Argenta prison ship

Private Ownership

The HMS Argenta was a prison ship of the British Royal Navy in the early 1920s. Conditions on board were said to be harrowing with many passengers succombing to hunger, illness and disease. Craft activities were taught by Eddie Monaghan from Fermanagh on the Argenta ship, including rug making and macramé mats and bags. This particular bag was completed on the Argenta ship for Margaret Carson (née Chambers).

Macrame Bag ©Fermanagh County Museum

Macrame Bag ©Fermanagh County Museum

2. Pandora Boat

The Pandora Boat has been chosen for its link to The Battle of Belleek. The Battle of Belleek, between 28 May to 4 June 1922, involved the Ulster Special Constabulary, Free State Forces, IRA and British troops.  Fighting focused on the isolated Belleek-Pettigo triangle on the Fermanagh border with the Free State.  It was the only major military operation of the 1920’s inNorthern Ireland.

3. George Irvine postcard

Fermanagh County Museum

This rare card includes a real photograph portrait cut into a circle and applied to the card. Designer’s initials “G. O h-E”. “Let Erin Remember” series designed and published by G. Irvine. George Irvine was sentenced to death for his part in the Easter Rising, afterwards commuted to ten years penal servitude. He was a grand nephew of Colonel William Irvine, Commander of a Regiment of Irish Volunteers in 1782.

1916 Thomas McDonagh - a rare postcard by George Irvine ©Fermanagh County Museum

A rare postcard by George Irvine ©Fermanagh County Museum

 

4. Trimble’s Covenant

Fermanagh County Museum

On 28 September 1912, just under half a million men and women signed the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant. The Covenant was in opposition to the Third Home Rule Bill which was introduced by the British government. This souvenir copy is signed by William Egbert Trimble,  part of the Trimble family who ran ‘The Impartial Reporter’ newspaper in Fermanagh. He was the son of William Copeland Trimble who, in 1912, had formed the Enniskillen Horse, a ‘cavalry’ unit of local Unionists.

Ulster Covenant signed by W. Trimble ©Fermanagh County Museum

Ulster Covenant signed by W. Trimble ©Fermanagh County Museum

Commissioned Researcher: Philip Orr

5. Orange Order – banner with portrait of 3rd Earl of Enniskillen

Fermanagh County Museum (on loan)

Druminiskill LOL No. 864 Banner is typical of many Orange banners, however there is one major noticeable difference, William of Orange is not pictured on the banner. The vast majority of Orange banners show ‘King William III, Prince of Orange’ crossing the River Boyne on a white horse. Featured on this banner is a famous portrait of William Cole, the 3rd Earl of Enniskillen, sitting in a chair. This is significant because The 3rd Earl of Enniskillen was unique in the sense that he served as Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and later Imperial Grand Master of the Orange Institution.

Commissioned Researcher: Julian Thornton

Druminiskill LOL No. 864 Banner ©Fermanagh County Museum

Druminiskill LOL No. 864 Banner ©Fermanagh County Museum

Druminiskill LOL No. 864 Banner ©Fermanagh County Museum

Druminiskill LOL No. 864 Banner ©Fermanagh County Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Ancient Order of Hibernians

Fermanagh County Museum

The Ancient Order of Hibernians was set up at the end of the 19th century in opposition to the Loyal Orange Lodge/Orange Order. The organisation is an Irish Catholic Fraternal organisation with its aim being to protect catholic men and women. The banner is from Div No. 160 Carrickaleece. One the banner is the phrase ‘Friendship unity and true christian charity’ on one side and ‘Faith and fatherland’ on the other side.

Commissioned Researcher: Dr Éamon Phoenix

AOH Banner Div No.160 Carrickaleece ©Fermanagh County Museum

AOH Banner Div No.160 Carrickaleece ©Fermanagh County Museum

AOH Banner Div No.160 Carrickaleece ©Fermanagh County Museum

AOH Banner Div No.160 Carrickaleece ©Fermanagh County Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. VC/ O’Sullivan

Imperial War Museum

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories. Queen Victoria introduced the VC Medal in 1856 to honour acts of valour in the Crimean War. Gerald Robert O’Sullivan received the VC medal for deeds during WWI, he was part of the Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Commissioned Researcher: Adam Purvis

Victoria Cross LI_2009_999_119_1_1©IWM

Victoria Cross LI_2009_999_119_1_1©IWM

Victoria Cross LI_2009_999_119_1_1_1©IWM

Victoria Cross LI_2009_999_119_1_1_1©IWM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Belleek piece of Michael Collins

Fermanagh County Museum

This object is a small commemorative ceramic Belleek vase, decorated with portrait medallions depicting Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith. Celtic designs feature on the vases. Michael Collins was influential in Irish history, he political career is well documented with him becoming President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Collins was murdered during the Civil War in August 1922.

Michael Collins Belleek Vase ©Fermanagh County Museum

Michael Collins Belleek Vase ©Fermanagh County Museum

Michael Collins Belleek Vase ©Fermanagh County Museum

Michael Collins Belleek Vase ©Fermanagh County Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Brookeborough

We will be aiming to tell the story of Lord Brookeborough through the Fermanagh 100. Basil Stanlake Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough was an Ulster Unionist politician and became the third Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

10. Customs Book for Motor Cars by Customs and Excise in Republic.

Fermanagh County Museum

These book was used by motorist in Northern Ireland when crossing the border between the North and South of Ireland. The book had to be stamped at each crossing. This book is significant in that it helps to tell that story of the border in Ireland and the way that people living near the border travelled between these two countries.

Records of Entries and Exits Book. ©Fermanagh County Museum

Records of Entries and Exits Book. ©Fermanagh County Museum

Commissioned Researcher: Joe O’Loughlin

The Famine Memorial at Cornagrade

The Fermanagh 100, The Objects

The Memorial at Cornagrade has been chosen to represent the story of the famine in Fermanagh. John Cunningham details the significance of the memorial and the impact the famine had on Fermanagh.

Cornagrade Famine Memorial

Cornagrade Famine Memorial

Fermanagh’s population dropped by about 40,000 from 160,000 to 120,000 a loss of about 25%. Death, emigration and disease cause the fall. Such was the death toll that mass burials became necessary in existing graveyards and new graveyards opened at all Irish Workhouses. These workhouses in Fermanagh were established in Irvinestown (then known as Lowtherstown), Enniskillen and Lisnaskea with Clones catering for a substantial part of east Fermanagh and Ballyshannon catering for a large proportion of west Fermanagh. All of these famine/workhouse graveyards are marked in one way or another and the one at Cornagrade, Enniskillen can be taken as an exemplar of the Famine in Fermanagh.

It was erected in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in 1996 as Famine Memorial on the site of the Pauper’s Graveyard at Cornagrade. The artist was Eamonn O’Doherty and the work was commissioned by Fermanagh District Council. The following quotation appears on the work “We beg to direct the attention of the guardians to the shameless, indecent and dangerous piling of the dead paupers in the new ground…….” Letter from Maguiresbridge relief committee March 3, 1847.

Alongside is a quotation “Allow the fertile crop of change to grow accept what is past embrace what is to come” Martina Feely, Garristown, aged 16. April 1996. Garristown is incorrect in this as it should be Garrison, Co., Fermanagh.

Grateful thanks is paid to the Kilmacormack history group and project benefactors: the National Famine Commemoration Committee, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, National Lottery fund and the central community relations unit.

The Irish famine of 1845-1850 was part of a European famine which also badly affected the Highlands of Scotland and European countries like France and Belgium as well as England and Wales – but nowhere as bad as Ireland. Population. In the early 1840s Ireland’s population was 8,200,000. During the famine years Ireland lost some 2,225,000 people. Fermanagh lost 40,000 people. According to British policy-makers at the time, the workings of divine Providence told them not to interfere with trade. This mentality of Sir Charles Trevelyan’s was influential in persuading the government to do nothing. In his book The Irish Crisis, published in 1848, Trevelyan described the famine as the will of God.

Ireland had a total island population of which only 15% lived in towns. Ireland and Fermanagh was made up of Tiny Farms. In 1845 25% of farms were 1-5 acres. 40% were of 2–6 hectares (5–15 acres). Holdings were so small that no other crop than potatoes would suffice to feed a family. Poverty was so widespread that one-third of them could not support their families, after paying their rent, except by earnings of seasonal workers in England and Scotland.

Public Works. On roads projects men could earn two pence a day; women could expect a penny for a day’s work hauling clay and stones. Food would be included – a bowl of porridge before starting the morning and another on finishing in the evening. Where food was not included, wages could go up to four pence a day. This was too little to feed most large families, especially once the price of corn increased. There were hoarding shopkeepers and farmers who profited through the whole dreadful era..

“It now a thing of daily occurrence to see haggard, sallow and emaciated beings, stricken down by fever or debility from actual want, stretched prostrate upon the footways of our streets and villages.” Belfast News Letter, 1847. “I have frequently heard of the horrors of Skibbereen quoted, but they can hardly have exceeded these.” Temporary Inspector D’Arcy, Fermanagh reporting on conditions in Lowtherstown (Irvinestown) Workhouse.

End of the Famine and its effects. People continued to emigrate – chain migration where a few emigrated and sent back gradually for the rest like links in a chain. People generally blamed the Government for not doing more. Great amount of evictions. Farms got larger – no more dividing. Sons married later. Ultimately – Landlord estates bought by Government and sold to the tenants.

John Cunningham

2014

The Modeenagh Brooch

The Fermanagh 100, The Objects, Uncategorized

The Modeenagh brooch is part of our prehistory section. Here Richard Warner explains its significance. 

This bronze brooch is of the safety-pin type – similar in shape, and mode of operation, to a modern nappy-pin. It is of a general type that was common in the lands of the Celts of central and western Europe, and the idea found its way to Ireland from those lands and from Britain after the third century BC. It would have been used to fasten a light cloak or tunic on one shoulder, and the small size suggests that it might have belonged to a woman. A fairly large number of safety-pin brooches have come from the area between Armagh and the Erne, and of these at least two are known to have been found in cremation burials. This, like several of the other local brooches, is decorated in a distinctive style of overlapping ‘trumpet-shapes’, and we would date it to about the first century BC, which is in the middle of the Irish Iron Age.

 

The brooch was found in a bog in, or close to, the townland of Modeenagh, south of Tempo, in 1925. It was obtained from the finder by Mr Patrick McGurn, a local watchmaker and jeweller. Many objects of antiquarian interest ended up with jewellers, and as long as they weren’t made of gold (in which case they might be consigned to the melting pot) they not uncommonly ended up in a public collection. Mr McGurn sent the brooch to Walther Bremer in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. He wrote in his letter to the museum that he ‘wanted to give to the National Museum the first chance if there is any value in it to them seeing that all such objects likely belong to Ireland in their origin’. Bremer was an expert in German archaeology, and therefore also in Celtic culture, and recognised the importance of the object. After a bit of haggling McGurn received £5 from Bremer for this brooch – and one rather wonders what he paid the original finder for it.

Richard Warner

2014

The Victoria Cross

The Fermanagh 100, The Objects

Here Adam Purvis details the significance of The Victoria Cross and his work in researching the link to Fermanagh.

Victoria Cross LI_2009_999_119_1_1©IWM

Victoria Cross LI_2009_999_119_1_1©IWM

A medal is the only tangible thing left of a moment of bravery and, without it, the moment would be lost. In my work I researched two such moments in time, which otherwise would have been lost, involving two brave Inniskilling Fusiliers. They were each awarded a Victoria Cross for their actions and thus have a tangible memorial of their deeds in the face of the enemy. This memorial won’t fade with time unlike the memories of those involved. I found myself wondering how many similar, perhaps even more impressive, deeds have been forgotten simply due to a lack of recognition at the time.

This project has been my first such undertaking in over two years. I relished the opportunity to take it on and get back into research and writing, especially on a topic such as this. In my studies I learnt about the First World War as a whole but never truly went down to the smaller details. So with this project, I found myself reading about minor details in a campaign I knew little about to begin with. An enlightening experience to say the least. Although the piece focuses on the Victoria Crosses which were awarded for individual deeds, it was necessary to expand into the wider context. This was shocking. While I knew Gallipoli was a disaster I never truly knew how bad it was. Reading accounts about the battle of Scimitar Hill particularly stand out in my mind as the Inniskillings suffered horrendous casualties for absolutely zero gain.

This is all besides the local connection to these events. Learning about the Dardanelles area of Enniskillen was humbling, given that such a small area would contribute so much. It is such a contrast to the world today. I don’t believe people would give so willingly. Speaking to a former resident of this area was hugely interesting and truly gave me an understanding of how the fate of this area was entwined with that of the military in the town. Also how, after the Second World War, with urban re-development, this connection more or less disappeared completely. It’s almost a tragedy.

Adam Purvis

2015