Finding the Ballyclog Bell

Updated: Feb 12, 2019


I have had an interest in local history and archaeology from the age of 12 years old which is some 50 years now, my interest in local history and archaeology started when the authorities dredged and cleaned out the Blackwater river depositing what was on the bed onto the land and spreading it over the land. It was then that we searched the spoil for artefacts, knowing that the river had been a communication link from prehistoric to modern times. I have been working with the Ulster Museum on the recovery of artefacts, one of which is the Clanmore Shrine presently displayed in the Ulster Museum and occasionally other museums worldwide. The shrine is a small reliquary that once held the relics of a saint, and it is highly decorated .


The Ballyclog Bell - Bronze bell (9-10th century) can be seen in the National Museums Northern Ireland


Finding the Ballyclog Bell was an unbelievable experience. I literally trembled with excitement and fear.

There it was. Looking back at me from the soil it had been laying in undisturbed for God only knows how many years. It was a beautiful sunny spring morning as I surveyed an area of newly ploughed field with my trusty metal detector. Instantly I got a signal and there was the bell looking up at me. I carefully removed the bell placing it in the back seat of my car and then drove home and called the people in the Ulster Museum, excitement then turn to fear as when I got home as I started to think will this bell ever get staying in this country will my grandchildren be able to go and visit it maybe they’re children.


I am writing this article about the Ballyclog Bell while in the Ulster Museum almost @ years after the date of the great find, looking at the display which is absolutely brilliant I am very satisfied how well it is done and I’m very appreciative of the challenge and the work that went into getting this display, a lot of work went on behind the scenes and as the reader will know by now I have been interested in history and archaeology did know something about bells as I was saying before I knew what I had found this bronze bell but since the find I have been researching and know of the great importance of the bell in the early Christian Community the bell was used to call people to the service to the mass it was used during the mass and indeed apparently St Patrick cost the druids on slaid hill with bell Book and Candle so the bear was very important to the church and early Christian church it was said that Saint Patrick cross the Shannon river with 30 or 12 for distribute in his new churches the importance of finding the bell cannot be underestimated one artefact that’s associated with the finding of the bell or came from the same site is what is known as a sensor it was used to put in sent inside this was lit.


I did this as a boy while being a naughty boy serving at mass

I did this as a boy while being a naughty boy serving at mass it was there to sanctify with this pure smoke the altar maybe the dead or even in the choosing of priests I really want to praise the HLF for supporting this project I didn’t know that the HLF should I say the heritage Lottery Fund did this type of thing and so finally I would like to sum up by saying I have on unbelievable prayers for the people in the Ulster Museum the landowner we all have a sense of pride at the Ballyclog bell is now for belongs and shared by everyone this I know well because I brought my own family down and indeed the landowners family and grandchildren I had to hire to other buses to bring the people down from the local area this was everybody very interested in the finding of the bell and what fills me most was pride was to hear that the local primary school that is the Ballyclog primary school came to visit the bell on its display in the Ulster Museum

James' Blog

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