The Bell of St. Patrick's Will

Clog-an-eadbacta Phatraic

       A Social History of Ancient Ireland
       P.W. Joyce 1903

  Bells.- The Irish for a bell is cloc, clocc, or clog, akin 
to the English clock.  The diminutive form cluccene is used to 
denote a small bell, called also lam-chlog, 'hand-bell.  St. Patrick 
and his disciples constantly used consecrated bells in their 
ministrations.  How numerous they were in Patrick's time we may
understand from the fact, that whenever he left one of his disciples 
in charge of a church, he gave him a bell: and it is recorded that 
on the churches of one province alone - Connaght - he bestowed fifty.  
To supply these he had in his househould three smiths, whose chief 
occupation was to make bells.  The most ancient Irish bells were 
quadrangular in shape, with rounded corners, and madeof iron: facts 
which we know both from the ecclesiastical literature, and from
the specimens that are still preserved.  In the Tripartite Life we are told
that a certain bell called Bethechan, belonging to St. Patrick, was 
"a little bell of Iron"" (cluccene becc lairnd).

  The bell of St. Patrick, which is more than fourteen hundred years 
old, is now in the National Museum, in Dublin: it is the oldest of all; 
and it may be taken as a type of the hammered-iron bells.  Its height 
is 6 1/2 inches: but projecting from the top is a little handle 1 1/4 
inch high, which gives it a total height of 7 3/4 inches.  It is made 
of two iron plates, bent into shape by hammering, and slightly overlapped 
at the edges for riveting.  After the joints had been riveted, 
the bell was consolidated by the fusion of bronze into the joints and 
over the surface - probably by dipping into melted bronze - which also 
increased its resonance.  This is the bell known as Clog-an-uudhachta, 
or the 'Bell of the Will' (so called because it was willed by the saint 
to one of his disciples), which is much celebrated in the Lives of 
St. Patrick.  A beautiful and costly shrine was made to cover and 
protect this venerable relic, by order of Donall O'Loghlin, king of 
Ireland (died 1121): and this gorgeous piece of ancient Irish art, with
O'Loghlin's name and three others inscribed on it, is also preserved in the
National Museum.....

     The Archaeology of Ireland
     R.S. MacAlister

    Bell-shrines.- Byt far the most important of these is the shrine of 
St. Patrick's Bell.  This bell was removed from the grave of St. Patrick 
by Colum Cille, according to the very accurate and authentic Annals of 
Ulster, citing a lost authority, the "Book of Cuanu."  The shrine was 
made under the auspices of Domhnall son of Amhalgaid (bishop, 1091-1105) 
by Cudulig u Inmainen and his sons, of whom nothing else is known.  The 
decoration is very rich on the front, though now marred by the loss of 
some of the decorated panels - a loss not compensated for by the addition 
of large rock crystals, clumsily set en cabochon.  The design of the 
interlaced filigree work on the sides is extraordinarily bold and free, 
and the handle of the shrine is especially sumptuous, with, among other 
details of interest, two finely-drawn figures of birds.  The back of the 
shrine was not expected to be seen, and the craftsmen were content to 
cover it with a stiff diaper of crosses, contrasting abruptly with the 
rich work of the front.

     Bells and Man
     Percival Price

   One of the most widely known of these bells is the Bell of St. Patrick's 
Will, or "Clog-an-eadbacta in Erse.  The specific, 'Will', is perhaps to 
distinguish it from the very many other bells which St. Patrick is credited 
with having distributed. It is first mentioned in the year 552 in the Book 
of Cuana, which states that at that time it was disinterred from the grave 
of St. Patrick after having been buried there for sixty years.  It is 
recorded that it worked a miracle in 1044, and that between 1091 and 1105 
King Donnel O'Loughlin encased it in a shrine.  Until 1441 its hereditary 
maers were the O'Mellan family. With the passing of Irish autonomy and the 
attempted reforms in the Irish church from England, the bell faded from 
history until the end of the eighteenth century.  Then a man who claimed 
to possess it and to be the last maer of his line transferred it to another 
family, from whom the Royal Irish Academy acquired it in the nineteenth 
century.  It now rests in its shrine in the National Museum of Ireland.  
Its dimensions in cm are:  vertical bell 16.5 + handle 3.3; 
horizontal rim 12.5 X 10; shoulder 12.8 X 4.  Its weight is 1.7 kg.
   The history of this simple bell - which in St. Patrick's lifetime was 
seen as two bent and riveted iron plates, and after his death displayed 
as a gold-like object (as a result of having been dipped in copper sometime 
after disinterment) until it was considered so holy, or its miraculous 
powers so uncontrollable, that it had to be shielded from mortal gaze 
in a gem-studded case...."
      Annals of Ulster

552 A.D.  Thus I find in the Book of Cuanu, viz.:- The relics of 
          Patrick were placed in a shrine, at the end of three 
          score years after Patrick's death by Colum-cille.  Three 
          splendid minna (a crown, diadem or precious thing) were 
          found in the tomb, to wit, his goblet, and the Angel's 
          Gospel, and the Bell of the Testament.  This is how the
          Angel distributed the treasures for Colum-cille, biz:- 
          the goblet to Down, and the Bell of the Testament to 
          Armagh, and the Angel's Gospel to Colum-cille himself.  
          The reason it is called the Angel's Gospel is, because it 
          is from the Angel's hand Colum-cille received it.  

1044 A.D. A depredation by Nial son of Maelsechlainn, King of 
          Aileach, upon the Ui-Meith and Cualnge, when he carried off 
          1,200 cows, and a great many prisoners in revenge of the 
          profanation of clocc-ind-edechta ("The Bell of the Testament").  
          Another depredation, also by Muirchertach Ua Neill upon the 
          Mughdorna, when he carried off a cattle-spoil, and prisoners, 
          in revenge of the same bell.  

1356 A.D. Solomon Ua Mellain, keeper of the Bell of the Testament, 
          general protector, rested in Christ.  

          Other References

     1.  "The Little Book of Bells"
         Eric Hatch (New York, 1964), p. 13

     2.  "Early Christian Art in Ireland"
         Margaret Stokes, 2nd ed. (Dublin, 1911), p. 49

     3.  "On the bell of St. Patrick"
         William Reeves, in the "Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy,"
         xxvii (Dublin, 1877-86), pp. 3, 10

     4.  A sumptuous monograph on this shrine, by Dr. Reeves, with 
         coloured lithographic ilustrations, was published by Marcus 
         Ward of Belfast in 1850.  For other references see Mr. 
         Crawford's "Catalogue of Shrines" referred to above.  
         See also Coffey, "Guide" plates ix, x.

The Back of the Bell Shrine of St. Patrick

The inscription on the Bell Shrine of St. Patrick appears on the back of the shrine, around the edges of the shrine, in the space between the crosses and the sides of the shrine.