The Bells, the Bells!

The Bangor Bell, The Lough Lene Bell and The Cashel Bell.

The Bangor Bell, The Lough Lene Bell and The Cashel Bell.

On a recent visit to Limerick’s Hunt Museum to attend a lecture I was very pleased to discover a temporary exhibit of three very impressive bells.
Bells have always had a certain attraction for me, from way back when the clock of the local Church of Ireland would ring out the hours, and when the Angelus bell on the local Roman Catholic church would peal across the miles three times a day. In fact family lore has it that I acquired my name as I was born at 8 am on March 25th, to the sound of the Angelus bell ringing. It’s a nice story!
Later in boarding school,bells took on a whole new meaning as they were used to wake us in the morning, during daily Mass to attract solemnity, to signify the end of the overnight silence at breakfast, to signal the end of each class during the school day and as a call to evening prayer at the end of the day. Later still, I was totally captivated by the peals of church  bells in London on Sunday mornings as they rang out joyfully across the city, a sound I love and miss to this day.

The three bells in this small exhibition are hand bells, weighing a hefty 10 kg each. They were probably used by monks as a call to prayer. The Bangor Bell dates from c.825 and was thought to have been hidden from Viking invaders and rediscovered centuries later. The Lough Lene Bell, on loan from the National Museum of Ireland dates from the 7th century while the  Cashel Bell dates from about the 9th Century.

These three bells are thought to be the oldest bronze castings in existence.  How wonderful it would have been to have been able to hear them ring!




Filed under Ireland

9 responses to “The Bells, the Bells!

  1. OceanTiara

    Should have picked one up and rang it then haha 🙂 They are fantastic!

  2. I also love bells, though haven’t had the pleasure of hearing them as often as you have. I was so happy when chosen as the bell ringer for a month at primary school, believe me, I sure rang that bell. Then even greater excitement prevailed when our church finally had the funds to install a bell… and I was so upset when we moved states not long before the inauguration ceremony! After all that fundraising too!

    • Yes there is something magical about them. Some churches in big cities have full peals of bells( if that is the correct description) . The school bell was great for gathering us and scattering us. Was astonished when the grandgirls changed schools to hear that their school ‘bell’ sounds like an air raid siren! bring back the bells, I say!

  3. A lovely post, SV. Bells are so evocative.

  4. Wow they sure are ancient SV. Reminds me of my altar boy days a zillion years ago. One of the four altar boy appointments was ‘bell’ and the boy would be required to ring it at two or three crucial points in the Mass. One day my friend David had the task and got it totally wrong. He was ringing at every opportunity and the congregation was in confusion and the priest livid. He didn’t last.

  5. This brings back lovely memories for me of when the Bells of the Angelus rang in Scotland. We lived in Cairo for 2 years and I still miss the call to prayer even though the cantor at the local mosque was tone-deaf… Great blog.

    • Thanks so much, delighted you enjoyed the post! I also love the call to prayer at the mosques. It has been quite some time since I heard a real angelus bell ring. Thank you for dropping in!

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