chapter  4
14 Pages

Tomb Effigies and Archaic Dress in Sixteenth-Century Ireland

In the first half of the sixteenth century in Ireland a particular type of tomb effigy sculpture was erected to commemorate well-born people. The effigies may be of husband and wife, or of single individuals; the men wear archaic armour seemingly of at least a hundred years earlier. The women's gowns and head-dresses follow styles originating even before then. Many such effigies are found in the lands of strong Anglo-Norman influence around Dublin, known as the Pale.1 John Hunt in his seminal book, Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture, catalogues about twenty-five male and fourteen female figures from the sixteenth, and ten men and nine women from the mid to late fifteenth century. In St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny, lies the tomb effigy of Piers Butler, eighth Earl of Ormond and his wife Margaret Fitzgerald, daughter of the Earl of Kildare, both sculpted wearing these earlier forms of dress.2