The Ardagh Hoard, a collection of 8th and 9th Century mental work, is regarded as the best preserved and greatest ever treasure find in Irish history. Now on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, it is considered the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of all exhibits there.
Discovered by two boys, Jim Quinn and Paddy Flanagan, at a Ring Fort in September 1868 in Reerasta, Ardagh, Co. Limerick the collection consists of the chalice, a plainer stemmed cup in copper-alloy and four Tara Brooches. The Chalice, made from silver, bronze and gold is know as one of the finest works of Celtic art and is believed to have been made in the 8th Century. When found the chalice held the other artifacts and was covered by a slab of stone. It is thought that the treasure was buried in a hurry, as though the owner intended to return at a later time. It is unclear why the boys were digging potatoes in a fort, although it is possible that they believed that the potatoes grown there would be safe from the blight that had afflicted the potato crop during the Great Famine.