Irish High Crosses Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland

Dr. Pat Wallace, Director of the National Museum of Ireland announced the opening of the new temporary exhibition entitled Irish High Crosses at The National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks in Dublin.

This exhibition brings together casts of 6 plaster High Crosses along with a selection of Irish early Christian treasures. These High Crosses will give visitors an opportunity to examine and compare how High Crosses feature scenes which explained biblical stories to the faithful. They are among the greatest examples of how powerful religious communities supported and encouraged art in Early Christian Ireland.

The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a growing interest in heritage and archaeology across Europe. Enthusiasts began to make reproductions of ancient objects to educate audiences at home and abroad. Of all the reproductions made at this time, the most impressive are the plaster casts made of the Irish High Crosses.

These reproductions are in the possession of the National Museum of Ireland. They were on display in the National Museum Kildare Street for most of the 20th Century. The crosses portray some of the finest examples of Early Christian sculpture in Ireland, which range in date from the ninth to the twelfth centuries A.D. They include two crosses from Ahenny, Co. Tipperary, two from Monasterboice, Co. Louth and individual crosses from Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo and Dysart O’Dea, Co. Clare. The centrepiece is the 6.5-metre high West Cross from Monasterboice, the tallest high cross in Ireland.

In recent years representing Ireland at the Expo exhibition in Japan, its Museum casts of High Crosses continued a tradition of using reproductions to teach people about ancient times and places. Dr. Patrick Wallace, commented on the significance of these casts as highlighting the best examples of Christian sculpture in early medieval Europe, the Irish High Cross being both unique and iconic.

More than two million visitors saw them in Japan – Now they can be seen at Collins Barracks.

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