The Bellshrine of St. Patrick

Commissioned by Domnall MacLochlainn, High King of Ireland , between A.D. 1091 - 1105

shrine2.gif

 

Life of Saint Patrick can be read here

 

Translated
Clog-an-eadbacta Phatraic
A Social History of Ancient Ireland
P.W. Joyce 1903

Bells.- The Irish for a bell is cloc, clocc, or clog, akin to the English clock. The diminutive form cluccene is used to denote a small bell, called also lam-chlog, ‘hand-bell. St. Patrick and his disciples constantly used consecrated bells in their ministrations. How numerous they were in Patrick's time we may understand from the fact, that whenever he left one of his disciples in charge of a church, he gave him a bell: and it is recorded that on the churches of one province alone - Connaght - he bestowed fifty. To supply these he had in his househould three smiths, whose chief occupation was to make bells. The most ancient Irish bells were quadrangular in shape, with rounded corners, and madeof iron: facts which we know both from the ecclesiastical literature, and from the specimens that are still preserved. In the Tripartite Life we are told that a certain bell called Bethechan, belonging to St. Patrick, was a little bell of Iron"" (cluccene becc lairnd).

The bell of St. Patrick, which is more than fourteen hundred years and is now in the National Museum, in Dublin: it is the oldest of all; and it may be taken as a type of the hammered-iron bells. Its height is 6 1/2 inches: but projecting from the top is a little handle 1 1/4 inch high, which gives it a total height of 7 3/4 inches. It is made of two iron plates, bent into shape by hammering, and slightly overlapped at the edges for riveting. After the joints had been riveted, the bell was consolidated by the fusion of bronze into the joints and over the surface - probably by dipping into melted bronze - which also increased its resonance. This is the bell known as Clog-an-uudhachta, or the ‘Bell of the Will' (so called because it was willed by the saint to one of his disciples), which is much celebrated in the Lives of St. Patrick. A beautiful and costly shrine was made to cover and protect this venerable relic, by order of Donall O'Loghlin, king of(died 1121): and this gorgeous piece of ancient Irish art, with O'Loghlin's name and three others inscribed on it, is also preserved in theNational Museum.....
The Archaeology of Ireland
R.S. MacAlister

Bell-shrines.- By far the most important of these is the shrine of St. Patrick's Bell. This bell was removed from the grave of St. Patrick by Colum Cille, according to the very accurate and authentic Annals of Ulster, citing a lost authority, the "Book of Cuanu." The shrine was made under the auspices of Domhnall son of Amhalgaid (bishop, 1091-1105) by Cudulig u Inmainen and his sons, of whom nothing else is known. The decoration is very rich on the front, though now marred by the loss of some of the decorated panels - a loss not compensated for by the addition of large rock crystals, clumsily set en cabochon. The design of the interlaced filigree work on the sides is extraordinarily bold and free,and the handle of the shrine is especially sumptuous, with, among other details of interest, two finely-drawn figures of birds. The back of the shrine was not expected to be seen, and the craftsmen were content to cover it with a stiff diaper of crosses, contrasting abruptly with the rich work of the front.
Bells and Man
Percival Price

One of the most widely known of these bells is the Bell of St. Patrick's Will, or "Clog-an-eadbacta in Erse. The specific, ‘Will', is perhaps to distinguish it from the very many other bells which St. Patrick is credited with having distributed. It is first mentioned in the year 552 in the Book of Cuana, which states that at that time it was disinterred from the grave of St. Patrick after having been buried there for sixty years. It is recorded that it worked a miracle in 1044, and that between 1091 and 1105 King Donnel O'Loughlin encased it in a shrine. Until 1441 its hereditary maers were the O'Mellan family. With the passing of Irish autonomy and the attempted reforms in the Irish church from England, the bell faded from history until the end of the eighteenth century. Then a man who claimed to possess it and to be the last maer of his line transferred it to another family, from whom the Royal Irish Academy acquired it in the nineteenth century. It now rests in its shrine in the National Museum of Ireland. Its dimensions in cm are: vertical bell 16.5 + handle 3.3; horizontal rim 12.5 X 10; shoulder 12.8 X 4. Its weight is 1.7 kg.

The history of this simple bell - which in St. Patrick's lifetime was seen as two bent and riveted iron plates, and after his death displayed as a gold-like object (as a result of having been dipped in copper sometime after disinterment) until it was considered so holy, or its miraculous powers so uncontrollable, that it had to be shielded from mortal gaze in a gem-studded case...."

Annals of Ulster

552 A.D. Thus I find in the Book of Cuanu, viz.:- The relics of Patrick were placed in a shrine, at the end of three score years after Patrick's death by Colum-cille. Three splendid minna (a crown, diadem or precious thing) were found in the tomb, to wit, his goblet, and the Angel's Gospel, and the Bell of the Testament. This is how the Angel distributed the treasures for Colum-cille, viz:- the goblet to Down, and the Bell of the Testament to Armagh, and the Angel's Gospel to Colum-cille himself. The reason it is called the Angel's Gospel is, because it is from the Angel's hand Colum-cille received it.

 

1044 A.D. A depredation by Nial son of Maelsechlainn, King of , upon the Ui-Meith and Cualnge, when he carried off 1,200 cows, and a great many prisoners in revenge of the profanation of clocc-ind-edechta ("The Bell of the Testament"). Another depredation, also by Muirchertach Ua Neill upon the Mughdorna, when he carried off a cattle-spoil, and prisoners, in revenge of the same bell.

1356 A.D. Solomon Ua Mellain, keeper of the Bell of the Testament, protector, rested in Christ.

source: clanmaclochlainn.com/bell.htm