We’ve all heard about the leprechauns and their pots of Irish gold. It’s an image popular on all sorts of Irish gifts. But the wee folks have been rumbled it seems. Someone has found their Irish gold and is preparing to mine it.
Irish Gold Discovered
When gold is discovered in Ireland, it is usually an ancient hoard of Irish jewelry and other treasures buried centuries ago. But it now appears we actually have deposits of gold too.
For decades, prospectors have occasionally found gold around Ireland and announced plans to mine it. Nothing much has come of it, until now. Over the summer, plans to open Ireland’s first commercial gold mine quietly inched forward. After years of research and planning, Conroy Gold signed a deal with Anglo Asian Mining to start mining in County Monaghan in about three years’ time. We’ll have to wait and see how this effort pans out – pun intended! – but Conroy Gold has been investigating the area for several years now and seems very confident of finding enough Irish gold to make the venture worthwhile.
Those leprechaun tales didn’t come from anywhere.
Generations ago, we were still aware that our prehistoric ancestors did find Irish gold here. Long before they became a popular icon for Irish gifts, perhaps those old stories had more truth than we realized. Maybe people did know there was Irish gold around somewhere and were wishing someone would give them clue about where it was.
Irish Gold – Ireland’s Oldest Gold
Once upon a time, people did know just where to find gold in Ireland. The National Museum of Ireland’s collection of Irish gold and jewelry includes pieces that date back to 2200 BC. We don’t know exactly where Ireland’s ancient peoples found their gold, but we do know what they did with it.
Pieces of Irish jewelry that survive from the Early Bronze Age (2400 – 1800 BC) are mostly made from sheet gold. Experts at the National Museum believe the gold used was panned from rivers, although they don’t know which rivers. Early goldsmiths pounded the gold into flat sheets, and then they worked it into shapes and decorated it. The collection includes lunulae, a type of necklace made with a flat crescent of gold. More than 80 of these have been discovered in Ireland. Flat disks, earrings, and bracelets have also been found from this era.
Early goldsmiths decorated their jewelry with crosses, zig-zags, triangles, and dots arranged in concentric patterns. The echoes of these designs are with us today in a variety of Irish gifts.
Gold Irish jewelry flourished in the Late Bronze Age (1000 – 700 BC). The people had more advanced skills and tools, and they made more intricate pieces using wire and beads. They could cast gold to create solid pieces of Irish jewelry such as pins, dress fasteners, bracelets, and neck rings. Concentric and geometric designs remained popular in this period.
On IrishShop.com we have a dedicated page for a collection of gold products and jewelry that are only made from gold found in Ireland. This distinctive and unique collection only uses precious metals from the land that their exquisite style captures. See for yourself here.
Today, some of the most beloved Irish gifts and Irish jewelry are pieces of gold jewelry featuring motifs inspired by these ancient designs.
It wouldn’t be fair to say a new gold mine would make Irish gold jewelry popular because it has never been unpopular.
It’s a timeless look with deep, deep roots.