THE SHRINE OF ST. PATRICK’S BELL
The shrine of St. Patrick’s Bell was made in Armagh between 1094 and 1105. The inscription on the back of the shrine makes this dating possible: it reads:
OR DO MOMNALL U LACHLAIND LAS IN DERNAD IN CLOSCA OCUS DO DONMALL CHOMARBA PHATRAIC ICON DERNAD OCUS DOD CHATHALAN U MAELCHALLAND DO MAER IN CHLOIC OCUS DO CHONDULIG U INMAINEN CONA MACCAIB ROCUMTAIG
Which translates as:
Pray for Domnall O’Lachlaind who caused this bell to be made, and for Domnall successor of Patrick in whose house it was made, and for Cathalan O’Maelchalland steward of the bell, and for Cuduilig O’Inmainen and his sons who enriched it.
According to the Annals of the Four Masters Domnall O’Lachlaind was the High King of Ireland from 1094 until his death in Derry in 1121.
Domnall Mac Amhalgadha (Mac Auley) became abbot of Armagh in 1091 and died in 1105. The shrine was therefore made at this in Armagh monastery.
St. Patrick’s Bell enclosed in its shrine remained in the monastery for centuries, an object of utmost veneration, witness to solemn oaths and entrusted to a keeper who watched over it, carried it in important functions and held on this account substantial land endowments.
At the dissolution of Armagh monastery in the sixteenth century, the O’Mulchalland (Mulhollands) were its keeper. They went on looking after it from generation to generation, the last of them died childless at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He was a schoolmaster, and one of his pupils Adam MacLean, had become an important merchant in Belfast: and was in 1798 in a position to save the life of O’Mulchalland who had taken part on his deathbed, O’Mulchalland told Maclean to dig at a certain place on his garden where his most precious possessions, were hidden, which he wanted to give to him. There enclosed in an oak box MacLean found St. Patrick’s Bell and its shrine. At his death it was sold to J.H. Todd whose heirs sold it to the Royal Irish Academy. The shrine is now kept in the National Museum in Dublin.
SKU: KB 001