Saint Manchan's Shrine
Art and Devotion in 12th century Ireland​​

​Publication : November 2021

Archaeologist Griffin Murray and metalsmith/photographer Kevin O’Dwyer are combining their expertise to create a high-quality coffee table publication that features O’Dwyer’s exquisite and atmospheric photographs and Griffin Murray’s in-depth story telling of the history and folklore of the shrine. The 90- page publication will feature full- and double-page image spreads, antiquarian drawings and descriptive metalsmithing close-ups. The text will be presented in a series of essay’s that will cover various topics including Saint Manchan and Lemanaghan, the art and craftsmanship of Saint Manchan’s Shrine, cultural cross fertilization – the Late Viking/Urnes style and the shrines relationship with the makers of The Cross of Cong. 

Saint Manchan's Shrine, Ireland's finest 12th century reliquary was commissioned by Turlough O'Connor, High King of Ireland (1111-1151), for the monastery of Lemanaghan, and was produced in the workshops along the River Shannon under the suoervision of the Abbot of Clonmacnoise, Domnail O'Duffy. The gable shaped shrine was made of yew wood and covered in a bronze and enamelled surface decoration. The imagery incorporates insular Irish, Hiberno-Urnes and Romanesque Christian art styles and is a unique study of 300 years of Irish metalwork and Christian art history. T.D. Kendrick described the shrine as "a rich and dazzling Celtic bewilderment, a perpetual challenge to the eyes and a perpetual delight".

O'Dwyer's presentation explores the Shrines links to 8th and 9th century Irish metalwork, the cross cultural exchange between the Irish and the Norse communities that lead to the development of the unique Hiberno/Urnes style and the demise of the Irish Christian style, during the 12th century when the monasteries came under the rule of Rome