NYU Student Discovers 900-Year-Old Irish Brooch
An Irish American New York University student made a once-in-a-lifetime discovery in July when she spotted what turned out to be a 12th century kite brooch (pictured right) in the sand on Omey Island, near Cleggan, in Connemara, an area long associated with burials and pilgrimage.
McKenna McFadden, a film and television production major minoring in Irish studies at Glucksman Ireland House, made the discovery while touring the area with Connemara-based archeologist Michael Gibbons during a summer NYU program in Ireland.
“I found it while looking at rabbit burrows in the dirt deposits at the back of the beach. I looked down and saw the back of the brooch sticking out of the sand,” she told Irish America. “When I picked it up, I really wasn’t sure what it was, but it looked cool! I was curious as to what it was, but I figured it was something that someone lost a few years ago.”
When she showed the brooch to Gibbons, he “freaked out,” she said. The provenance of the ancient brooch, which would have been used to fasten a cloak or shawl, was verified by Galway city heritage officer Jim Higgins.
“I couldn’t believe that I just stumbled across it,” she said. McFadden has since donated the brooch to the National Museum of Ireland. ♦