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date: 13 November 2019

Máel Ísu (MacBratáin Uí Echach) [Mael fsu] locked

(fl first half of the 12th century).
  • Pippin Michelli

Extract

(MacBratáin Uí Echach) [Mael fsu]

(fl first half of the 12th century).

Irish metalworker. He was probably trained by the metalworker Nechtain at Clonmacnois. Máel Ísu’s style, a mixture of revived Insular art and imported Scandinavian styles, is similar to Nechtain’s, a typical product of Clonmacnois, except that Máel Ísu favoured the rounded Urnes manner of execution (see Urnes, §1). Máel Ísu was transferred to Roscommon, where he evidently founded a new workshop. This may be why his style is relatively individual; its strong Urnes cast prevents his work at Roscommon from being confused with products from Clonmacnois. Since Clonmacnois and Roscommon were the capitals of rival dynasties, this may have been an important consideration.

Two of Máel Ísu’s works survive. The Cross of Cong (Dublin, N. Mus.), dated by inscription to 1127–36, was made for Ruaidri Ua Conchobar, King of Connaught, to enshrine a fragment of the True Cross. The large, incomplete house-shaped shrine from Lemanaghan (Boher, Church, Co. Offaly) has no inscription, but its commission in ...

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