If you have a daughter, niece, goddaughter or other special little lady in your life, have you ever considered what she has in common with the ancient Celts? Okay, if she is under four, you might be thinking ‘ruthless warrior’ or ‘disturbing table manners’, but she’s a bit older the odds are high that she enjoys a bit of pretty and shiny around her wrist. That’s right – bracelets.
Bracelets have been discovered in many of Ireland’s Bronze Age hoards, including the Ballinesker Hoard found in County Wexford in 1990, the Dowris Hoard found in County Offaly in 1825 and the Kilmoyly Hoard found in County Kerry in 1940. The Mooghaun Hoard, found in County Clare in 1854, included approximately 200 pieces of gold items, and most of them were bracelets. An Iron Age hoard found in County Mayo in 2001 included three bronze bracelets. The three gold bracelets found in County Kerry are similar in style to each other. They are solid with an open section, a bit like a smaller torc or a dress fastener from that period. Many of the bracelets and other pieces found in hoards around Ireland are on display in the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street in Dublin, a must-see spot for visitors.
Our fashion sense has certainly changed since the Bronze and Iron Ages, but we still love bracelets. Many grown women have a charm bracelet from their girlhood in the back of the jewelry box or dresser drawer. Each charm holds a special place in her memory; each is powerful with meaning. Anyone looking to interest a girl in Irish history and heritage would be hard pressed to find a more enticing teaching tool than Irish charms for her charm bracelet, and Tara’s Diary has several.
The Map of Ireland charm is a great one to start. Ask her if she can see what animal the island is shaped like. (Hint, Galway is the front legs and Kerry the back legs.) This charm shows the might River Shannon and other famous waterways. (Okay, if you are still working on it, consider your, ahem, best friend and how many breeds of that species have some connection to this island.) The Irish Cottage charm can spark her imagination and curiosity about Irish life generations ago. The green Shamrock charm is a launching point for a discussion about St. Patrick, and the Harp charm can remind her of the bards of old. When she gets older, the cute Hand Bag charm might conjure up dreams or memories of shopping on Grafton Street in Dublin.
Charm bracelets are a great way to start a tradition that has lots of room to grow. A little girl can enjoy wearing her pretty bracelet and explaining each charm to her friends, and when she grows up it really will charm her as she looks back on the memories of receiving the charms.
(In case you’re still pondering, Ireland is sometimes described as a dog-shaped island.)