Power: The Riches of Clare
Found in the vicinity of Lake Inchiquin, in the townland of Nooan, parish of Kilnaboy/Ruan, barony of Inchiquin. Dating to the Late Bronze Age (1000-600 BC) this is a bronze leaf-shaped sword found by John Brady in the spring of 1895 in his potato garden on top of Keentlea, townland of Nooan . Daggers gradually evolved into long rapiers which were straight-sided thrusting swords and these in turn evolved into leaf-shaped swords like the one found at Lake Inchiquin. The blades were weighted towards the tip so that they could be swung with ease and these swords were a great advance in Bronze Age technology. The handles would have been fitted with riveted plates of bone, horn or wood. It is typical of the type of weapon a Later Bronze Age warrior would have used and the equipment they would have had at their disposal.
Local tradition connects Keentlea with Bran the famous hound of Finn Mac Cumhail, who while pursuing a magic stag sprang from the top of Keentlea (Ceann Sliabh) or Inchiquin Hill into the lake where it and its quarry disappeared for ever.
Weapons were ritually deposited in rivers at a time when the practice of burying the dead with grave goods went out of favour. It has been suggested that these weapons found in rivers are grave goods without a grave. The weapons may have been cast into the river on the occasion of a funeral where the body was disposed of elsewhere, or they may have accompanied a body that was cast into the river. Similar finds of Bronze Age weapons from the River Thames in England were found associated with human skulls.
Places: Nooan Townland, Killinaboy Parish
Photographs appear courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland