An article by Mary Cahill which was published in volume 35 of the North Munster Antiquarian Journal sheds light on the gold ornaments which were found in Cooga Lower in 1867. In her article Cahill traces the acquisition of the ornaments by the Royal Irish Academy through their records. The RIA records however are a bit misleading as they would appear to have mixed up the Cooga find with a find in Kilcommon. More useful proof in establishing the provenance of the ornaments is a letter written by Fr. J. Power to the Ordnance Survey. This letter is quoted in full by Cahill and is reprinted here.
Kilteely, Pallasgreen. May 6, 1902
The ornaments found in Cooga in 1867 were gold fibulae or clasps used by the chieftains to fasten on their cloaks and they were horse shoe shape (sic) - somewhat flattened, of plain make no filigree or tracery whatever one was small worth about £37. This large one was worth a £100 more, they were sold at Cannock's Limerick for their worth as pure gold. They then passed up to Dublin and I saw them in the possession of the late Sir William Wilde who told me they were bought for the Royal Irish Academy or Museum in Dublin, where they are no doubt at present. Tis well at all events to have on your map the place they were found, and as well as I remember they were found to the west of M. Crowe's house on the border of the bog of [?] Denis Crowe who found ...the large one will point out [to] you the precise spot. There again I found that at that time there was a tradition amongst the people that there was a battle fought there by the Celts against the Danes, and that there was there the ruins of a Danish limekiln, which was a primitive one. Simply excavate a cavity on the brow of some little precipice. This is all the information I can now remember concerning these ornaments. I am Sir yours truly. John Power
2nd Cpl Morris RE Doon
0.S. Doon 7.2.02
I beg to forward the attached letter from Rev. J.
Power P.P. Kilteely.
I beg to add that I have marked the site where the
ornaments were found, on trace 15/12.5.
2nd Cpl RE
I beg to add that Fr. Power was a curate in Doon at
the time the ornaments were found.
H.M. 2nd Cpl. RE
The 1927 2nd edition 6 inch OS sheet No. 15 for Co. Limerick notes the find
place 'Gold ornaments found in AD 1867' in the townland of Cooga Lower. Mary
Cahill gives a detailed description in her article of both of the ornaments and
it is quoted here in length -The larger of the two objects from Cooga Lower is a
massive cast penannular ring of approximately triangular section with expanded,
slightly dished terminals of circular shape. The flat inner surface of the bar
has not been completely polished down and marks from the casting are still
visible as are numerous hammer marks. The outer surface has been very well
finished. The terminals may have been hammered up from the ends of the bar.
While it assumes the general form of a bracelet, it is unlikely that this object
was ever intended to be worn. The opening is very narrow and due to its extreme
weight it could not be worn in any conventional sense on the wrist.
It is far more likely that an object of this type is an expression of status, territorial or resource control or was specially made for the purpose of ritual deposition. The maximum lateral weigh is 9.34cm; max. dimensions of the bar 2.5cm x 1.8cm. The terminals are (i) 3.7011 x 3.64cm; (ii) 3.6scm x 3.67011 in diameter. Weight 878.35 grammes.
The smaller object is a penannular ring of bracelet form with expanded, slightly hollowed terminals. It has been broken in two. The bar is plano-convex in section. The object is well finished with smooth surfaces. Some hammer marks are visible on the internal surface of the bow. The object is now quite scratched in appearance. The maximum lateral width is approx. 7.2cm; max. width of the bar is 1.0 cm and max. thickness 0.67 cm. The terminals are (i) 2.18 cm x 2.26cm and (ii) 2.21011 x 2.23 cm. Weight I42.5grammes'.
The very beautiful Cooga ornaments are on display in the National Museum of Ireland which is right beside Dail Eireann in Kildare Street. Admission is free. So next time you are in Dublin make a visit. It is well worth it!