Up the back of the book or Domnach Airgid - Sunday Silver?

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Where: Leinster, Dublin City, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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One of the sure things about the Mason Collection is that there will always be a surprise around the corner. This image of a metal plated book cover (?) is titled "Domnach Airgid" which with my basic Gaelic translates as "Sunday Silver". What is/was it? Where was/is it? and where is it now?

Photographer: Thomas H. Mason

Collection: Mason Photographic Collection

Date: 1890 - 1910

NLI Ref: M32/30

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 7228
thomasholmesmason thomasmayne thomashmasonsonslimited lanternslides nationallibraryofireland domnachairgid metalbookcover shrine

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    • 11/Aug/2021 07:56:06

    A Bible ?

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    • 11/Aug/2021 08:03:48

    Apparently it means "Silver Church" and is a book shrine to be found across from Library Towers in the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology. (It has a wiki page too.) It contained a copy of the Vulgate Version of the Gospels. It was associated with Clogher/Clones.

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    • 11/Aug/2021 08:09:06

    some great old lettering and pattens

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    • 11/Aug/2021 11:26:14

    and has led me to peruse the workings of Jerome of Stridon, ah the things we can learn over the 11o'c coffee & biccie break

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    Bernard Healy

    • 11/Aug/2021 13:39:10

    I've never really thought about this before, but it's interesting that this kind of book shrine seems to be a primarily Irish phenomenon. I've seen all kinds of decorative manuscripts - religious and secular - in museums throughout Europe, but for some reason this style of container for books seems to be particularly Irish, as is the particular emphasis placed on the devotion to books associated with particular saints. Relics of saints and reverence shown to items used by saints is a common part of the European Christian tradition, but the devotion around the books (and also bells) of saints, and their preservation in this kind of shrine is especially Irish. I'd love to learn more about why this might be.

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    • 11/Aug/2021 21:32:24

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardhealy That’s an interesting point, particularly considering the Irish influence on the Continent. (Or at least wherever I seem to go - I keep encountering Irish connections).

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    John Spooner

    • 12/Aug/2021 05:40:27

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardhealy This was mentioned as a tradition of the Celtic church in the Belfast News-Letter on Monday 26 April 1886, printing an extract from an article in the May edition of "Magazine of Art" by J Romilly Allen,

    CELTIC SHRINES. WHEN the early Celtic saints died, the books and bells which they had used during their lifetime were preserved in costly shrines or caskets, and became objects of superstitious reverence ; being carried by the ecclesiastics in front of armies in battle to insure victory, and employed for healing the sick and for taking oaths upon. Each shrine had its hereditary keeper, who was answerable for the safety of the relic, and the history of many of them may thus he traced back from the present day to the time of the saints to whom they originally belonged. The oldest "cumdach" or book shrine now remaining is that of St. Molaise's Gospels, in the museum of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. it is known as the " Soicel Molaise," and has an inscription upon it showing that is was made for Cennfaolad, who was Abbot of Devenish A.D. 1001 to 1025. The shrine was preserved up to 1845 in the family of O'Meachan who for more than 500 years were the "Comarbas," or repräsentatives of St. Molaise. It consists of an oblong ease formed of bronze plates, and is ornamented with the symbols of the Four Evangelists, and panels of interlaced dragons and knotwork. The cover of the Stowe Missal, in the Ashburnbham Collection, of the eleventh century, is made of oak, plated with silver. It is inscribed, and has small figures on the side, one playing a harp and others with a spear and crozier. The decoration, however, consists chiefly in plates fastened one above the other, the upper ones being pierced with openings in the shape of crosses, squares, or triangles, so as to show the ones below. This method of decoration is peculiar to Celtic art. Besides these two, there exist five others, all bearing inscriptions, and most of which have been repaired at different periods. That of St. Patrick's Gospels (Royal Irish Academy), known as the " Domnach Airgid," is possibly as old as the tenth century; but it was repaired about the year 1353 .

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    John Spooner

    • 12/Aug/2021 05:58:25

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumdach also mentions that book shrines were carried into battle. And from nicholasrossis.me/2016/12/29/a-fantasy-tip-from-history-b...

    ... Irish cumdachs were not meant to be read. Instead, they were carried around the neck of a monk, who would run up and down in front of the troops right before battle. The book served as a charm of sorts, which was to bring fortune and devine blessing in battle. That is why it made good sense to store this ‘secret weapon’ in a sturdy box that could withstand all that bouncing around and even a potential blow of a sword.