From the recovery after the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s to the booming Celtic Tiger of the 1990s, a revival of the ancient traditions of Celtic jewelry have become a part of how the Irish, as well as the Scots, Welsh and other Celts have expressed their cultural identity. Usually the story of this tradition focuses on very old prototypes, the museum pieces turned up by archaeologists or the legend of the original Claddagh ring. In our imagination, we connect the popular Celtic jewelry of today with the distant past. But that link with the ancient style was very much influenced by what others had done in more recent history. The story of is told by four authors. Tara Kelly writes of the early Celtic Revival manufacture of facsimiles of medieval Irish metalwork in Victorian Dublin and how the success of that enterprise lead to historical Celtic jewellery to become iconic symbols of Irish identity. Mairi MacArthur tells the story of Alexander and Euphemia Ritchie who created the foundation for modern Scottish Celtic jewellery on the Isle of Iona in the early 20th century. Aidan Breen, himself a pioneer of the late 20th century Celtic Renaissance, recalls his career beginning with an apprenticeship with Dublin silversmiths which trained him in the traditions of the older Celtic Revival. Stephen Walker, craftsman and collector, brings the story together as it spans 150 years, from Scottish pebble jewellery to the innovative modern Celtic creations of the Arts and Crafts Movement. 69 color photographs and 29 black and white illustrations.
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Aidan J. Breen. Is a Dublin native trained in his craft by a traditional seven year apprenticeship. “As a young lad, I was always fascinated with the ancient and medieval treasures on display at the National Museum in Kildare Street. This was a place I frequently visited on weekends and still often go for inspiration.” Since 1979 he has run his own business, Aidan Breen Gold and Silversmith in Swords, County Dublin. Dr. E. Mairi MacArthur is from an Iona family and has written extensively about the local history of the island and its people. Her book Iona Celtic Art. The Work of Alexander and Euphemia Ritchie, published by The New Iona Press, is a very thorough history of Iona jewellery. She is a graduate of St Andrews University and later undertook her doctoral research into Iona at the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh. Dr. Tara Kelly is an independent art historian and curator. Her dissertation at Trinity College, Dublin focused on copies of Irish archaeological jewellery and metalwork made in Dublin between 1840 and 1940. Her research into the production methods, marketing strategies and distribution of copies of Irish antiquities represents a significant advancement in our knowledge of this industry. Stephen Walker is a goldsmith specializing in Celtic design. He is a graduate of Syracuse University earning his Masters of Fine Arts at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. With his wife Susan they run Walker Metalsmiths, established 1984 in Andover, New York and a second showroom in Fairport , New York
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