Friday - 31 October 2014

Ireland’s Gothic vandalism

26 March 2003Written by ATG Reporter

Gothic Art in Ireland 1169-1550: Enduring Vitality, by Colum Hourihane, Yale University Press. ISBN 0300094353 £45.00 hb (publication date April 17).

PUBLISHED for the excellent Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the author, now director of the Index of Christian Art at Princeton University, had his interest in late medieval art awakened as a student at University College, Cork and later, at the Courtauld Institute, of the wealth of Gothic art in Ireland.

The cataclysmic forces of the Church Reform movement and the Anglo-Normans in the late 12th century changed the insular face of Ireland for which, in such fields as art history, they have never been forgiven.

Gothic Irish has always been considered to be the art of the outsider; it is rarely pure and never simple and has elements which are still culturally associated with a foreign power.

The seven chapters attempt a broad coverage of period, style and medium and much of the research deals with architectural sculpture and metalwork.

Using hitherto unseen material, Colum Hourihane trace, the extent of Gothic style from the 13th century to the Reformation. His book includes a discussion on one of the most damaged of the medieval shrines, now in Dublin’s National Museum, the Fiscail Padraigh, or Shrine of
St Patrick’s Tooth which, with the Shrine of St Patrick’s Hand, are among the most important pieces of late medieval metalwork that commemorate Ireland’s national saint.

The highly detailed chapter on Cashel Cathedral, Co. Tipperary, one of the largest of the medieval Irish cathedrals to survive relatively intact, is one reason alone to buy this book, which also contains an inventory of Cashel’s sculptures.

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