12 January 2010
The Ardagh Chalice is considered one of the premier examples of Insular or Hiberno-Saxon art and craftsmanship. Dating from 8th century AD the footed silver cup is embellished with complex gilt bronze filigree application, cloisonné and enameling. Decorated with fanciful fauna, geometric interlace and the names of the apostles it was found near the village of Ardagh, County Limerick in 1868 by boys digging for potatoes. It is considered the crowning jewel of the National Museum of Ireland. The hope symbolized by the chalice and Holy Grail is significant to Christianity as well as the Arthurian Legends. Chrétien de Troyes the French poet of the 12th century wrote Perceval, the Story of the Grail. Although the work was not completed it had a tremendous impact on the culture of the Middle Ages. The healing and restorative powers of the grail continue to captivate us as in the Celtic Revival chalice painted by Scottish artist George Bain (1881-1968).