Ireland’s Sword of State returns to Dublin from Britain for first time in almost a century

Ireland’s Sword of State returns to Dublin from Britain for first time in almost a century

IRELAND’S Sword of State has been returned to Dublin Castle from the Tower of London for the first time in 95 years.

The blade, once used as a symbol of royal authority in Ireland, dates from 1660 – just 30 years before the infamous Battle of the Boyne.

On Monday, it was returned to Dublin under tight security from the Jewel House at the Tower of London – where it has been since the late 1950s.

The sword is the centrepiece of a new Dublin Castle exhibition which explores the fortress’s royal history in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Exhibition curator William Derham told RTÉ News that the ceremonial weapon symbolises the “shared cultural heritage” of Britain and the Emerald Isle.

"It's nice to think of it coming back in a different political time and a different political space,” he said.

“It now also symbolises something different.

"Once it was a symbol of royal authority in Ireland, but now it is very much a symbol of the shared cultural heritage of Britain and Ireland in times of friendship and cooperation."

The Irish Sword of State is etched with a number of regal decorations including a lion, a unicorn and a harp at the front of its crossguard.

Its lavish scabbard is covered in velvet with silver emblems including a rose, a thistle and the coat of arms of the period 1714-1801.

The longsword was used to represent the British monarch when he or she was not physically present, as a symbol of royal authority.

It was supplied to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1660, but the scabbard dates from a later period during the early eighteenth century.

Britain reclaimed the sword, which was kept in Ireland for almost 300 years, after Ireland achieved independence from the crown in 1922.

It has remained in the Tower of London’s Jewel House since 1959.

"Making Majesty: Building and Borrowing the Regal Image at Dublin Castle" opens at Dublin Castle on September 25 and runs until April 28, 2018.