Efforts are underway to have the priceless Derrynaflan hoard repatriated to it’s home in The Premier County for a time in 2015 to conincide with the 35th anniversary of it’s finding near Littleton.
Minister of State, Alan Kelly TD, has been working very closely with Hidden Tipperary and officials in The National Museum to make arrangements for the stay of the hoard, but there are serious security, insurance and logistical strategies to be put in place with venues such as The Source, County Museum and St Patrick’s College in Thurles being mentioned as possible locations.
The priceless treasure trove known as the Derrynaflan Hoard consists of one highly decorated ninth century silver chalice; a large eighth century paten and stand; an eighth century liturgical strainer; and an eighth to ninth century bronze basin. A stone slab, found on the site and now also in the National Museum, and much associated with the original location of this treasure & inscribed “Or doan main Dubscull,” (Translated; A prayer for the soul of Dubscuile,) is also being sought. Abbot Dubscuile mac Cinaeda, mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters, is understood to have died around 962 AD & was the son of Cinaedh, and one of the eventual successors of St. Colum Cille (521 AD – 597AD).
The monastery at Derrynaflan was originally founded by St. Rhuadhan of Lorrha in the sixth century. Derrynaflan was an important monastery in the eighth and ninth centuries and came under the patronage of the King-Bishops of Cashel. After the death of Feidlimid mac Crimthainn the King-Bishop of Cashel in 847, this monastery fell into decline and nothing of this early monastery’s structure now remains, except some very faint outlines of the original enclosure and the ruined walls of a slightly later church.
There is growing excitement in the locality at the prospects of having the hoard back in it’s place of discovery and any such move would greatly boost the local tourism sector. The items would be available for viewing and despite the fact that the Derrynaflan Chalice is perhaps the greatest treasure find in the history of the county, few Tipperary people have actually seen it, apart from seeing photos.
The discovery was made on 17 February 1980 near Killenaule having lain in hiding for perhaps up to 800 years.The hoard was probably secreted during the turbulent 10th to 12th centuries, when Viking raids and dynastic turmoil created many occasions when valuables were hidden. The early and later 10th century is marked by a particular concentration of hoarding in Ireland.
Derrynaflan is a small island of dry land situated in a surrounding area of peat bogs, in the townland of Lurgoe, northest of Cashel. The monastery was an important foundation in the period preceding the Viking raids; the present modest ruins of a small Cistercian nave-and-chancel abbey church there, however, date from a later period.
The Derrynaflan Hoard was discovered by Michael Webb from Clonmel and his son, also Michael, while they were exploring the ancient monastic site of Derrynaflan with a metal detector. The discovery was initially kept secret for three weeks and led to the replacement of Irish laws of treasure trove by the law in the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994, with a new Section 2 being included in the legislation.
Obviously security concerns remain the single biggest impediment to the visit of the Derrynalan hoard to Tipperary. We understand that North Tipperary County Council are looking at all possibilities in conjunction with The National Museum, while Minister Kelly, through the new tourism group Hidden Tipperary is pursuing the matter also. Cost of security though would be recouped by the charging of a small admission free to see the treasure trove of ancient Tipperary.