Riches of Clare Exhibition - Power collect, preserve, interpret and display the material culture relating to the history of County Clare, both in the museum building and online,
as an educational resource and a socially inclusive cultural service for the people of Clare and visiting tourists.

Sunflower Pin

In February 1930 while digging a boundary ditch to drain a bog garden at Booleybrien, in Kilmaley, barony of Islands, Dan Greene and his son Pat Joe unearthed a Late Bronze Age (1000-600 BC) hoard of 11 objects. The smaller items in the hoard had been placed inside a bronze horn, which was in turn wrapped in a goatskin. The finds were made at a mud level that contained tree stumps below the peat and above the gravel. Dan left the objects on top of a dresser in the kitchen to show them to his son Michael who was away at All Hallows Seminary in Dublin studying to be a priest. When Michael arrived home during the summer he immediately recognised the importance of the objects and set about reporting the finds to the National Museum of Ireland.

This sunflower pin has a disc-shaped head with a bent stem. The pin is round in cross–section, bent at a right angle at the top and thickened at the junction with the head. It tapers from a maximum diameter of 6mm to a point and was broken 14cm from the tip. Ornamentation on the disc consists of a slight ridge around the edge of the disc from which extend a series of lightly incised lines forming hatched triangles. Between the triangles and the central boss are fifteen concentric circles. The boss is 12mm in diameter at the base and 9mm in height. The back of the head is also ornamented, the decoration consisting of straight lines extending in from the edge for a distance of 5mm, these straight lines are bounded by a thin incised line for part of the way on the inside. The overall length of the pin is 21.75cm. (Eogan 1983).

During the Bronze Age metal objects were deliberately deposited in rivers, bogs and lakes. The act of placing these objects, either in hoards or singly, in water and watery contexts was no doubt overtly ritual and may have been linked to events such as births or deaths in the community. Although depositing the metal was a ritual act, political and economic benefits resulted. It is possible that Bronze Age social hierarchies were in part maintained by controlling the exchange of prestigious items such as metalwork. Ritually depositing metal was public display of the destruction of wealth and could be used to build personal status. At the same time, metal was taken out of circulation thereby controlling its supply and value.


Clare Places: Boolybrien Townland, Kilmaley Parish
Clare Places: Kilmaley Parish
Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1845: Barony of Islands
The Bronze Age
Clare Archaeology

Eogan, George. 1983. The hoards of the Irish later Bronze Age. University College Dublin, Dublin.

Sunflower Pin, 1931:232

Sunflower Pin, 1931:232

Sunflower Pin, 1931:232

Sunflower Pin, 1931:232

Sunflower Pin, 1931:232
Click images for high resolution photographs

Photographs appear courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland

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