The Bishop Michael Flannery Crozier (1861)

Bishop Michael Flannery Crozier (1861)

[The Bishop Michael Flannery Crozier (1861); photo courtesy of Pádraig Ó Flannabhra F.I.P.P.A.]

This nineteenth century crozier is the property of the Bishop of Killaloe. It is currently on loan to the Clare Museum in Ennis, County Clare, where it is on public display (ground floor). Although it now spends most of its time as an exhibit in a secure glass case, it is still used at the ordination of the Bishops of Killaloe in Ennis Catheral - most recently at the ordination of Bishop Kieran O'Reilly on 29th August 2010 and his predecessor Bishop Willie Walsh on 2nd October 1994 (photo below).

Bishop William Walsh 2nd October 1994

The origin of the crozier is identified by an inscription on a 25mm wide band of gold on the wooden staff, which reads:

Presented to
The Right Revd Doctor Flannery
Lord Bishop of Killaloe
The Rectors & Professors of
The Catholic University of Ireland

The coat of arms of the Bishopric of Killaloe is engraved on the opposite side of the golden band.

inscription on band

coat of arms on band

Bishop Michael Flannery was appointed Titular Bishop of Tiberiopolis and Auxiliary Bishop of Killaloe on 6th July 1858, ordained Titular Bishop of Tiberiopolis on 5th September 1858, and succeeded as Bishop of Killaloe on the death of Bishop Daniel Vaughan on 29th July 1859. So he did not receive the crozier until two years after his succession. It is interesting to note that Bishop Michael Flannery had plans to build a Cathedral in Nenagh, County Tipperary, and had already started to rebuild the top of Nenagh Castle in 1860 as part of the Cathedral when the essential fund-raising efforts in America were brought to a halt by the American Civil War (1861-1865).


The decorative crook at the top of the crozier is styled on Saint Patrick's Crozier of Cashel, which is on display at the Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary. It is interesting to note that Saint Patrick's Crozier was formerly believed to have been used by Bishop Cormac McCarthy and, hence, the replica in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is still described as the Crozier of Cormac McCarthy (accession number 08.233.9; not on display).

Saint Patrick's Crozier (C12)

[Saint Patrick's Crozier, Rock of Cashel; early sketch Journal Royal Society Antiquaries of Ireland, Volume 137 (2007), pp146-149]

Saint Patrick's Crozier has been described as follows: "The head only has survived, the rest being of perishable material. This is formed of copper, and measures 12 inches in length and 5 in the diameter of the crook. Its surface is covered with a sunk lozenge carving, filled with a vitreous enamel of a blue colour, the intervening elevations of which are gilt--a design obviously intended to represent the scales of a reptile. Within the curve is a human figure, standing, with one leg placed on the neck of the serpent, and the other on the back of a double-faced, wingless dragon, which he has pierced in the back with a spear which the dragon bites. This human figure is dressed in a simple tunic, tied round the waist; and the feet are covered with buskins which extend above the ankles. The bowl is encircled by a central belt ornamented with nine turquoises and nine sapphires, placed alternately and at equal distances from each other. Immediately above the bowl is an ornament resembling the Irish crown. The lower part or socket is ornamented with a very graceful pattern composed of leaves or flowers in three vertical ranges, separated from each other by three figures of a fish; the well-known mystical symbol of the early Christians; and these are each ornamented with a range of seven gems, turquoises and sapphires placed alternately at equal distances along the back."

Met Crozier (replica)

[The Replica "Cormac McCarthy Crozier"; photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York]

The decorative metalwork on the crozier is fashioned on a base of copper. Small compartments are formed which are filled with enamel, and then the exposed copper surfaces are gilt. The artform was originally developed in Limoges in central France in the thirteenth century from whence it spread to other parts of Europe. In its earliest form, the compartments were formed in the copper base, and this is known as champlevé enamel. As the technology developed, the compartments were formed by strips of copper fixed to the base, and this is known as cloisonné enamel. The Bishop Michael Flannery Crozier if a fine example of the latter form.

detail of Saint Michael in crook

The crozier is made of three long sections of staff which screw together. When it is used for ceremonial purposes, all three sections of staff are used to make the full crozier. However, when it is on display in the Clare Museum, just two sections of staff are used so that it will fit inside the protective glass case. As displayed in its shortened form, the overall length of the crozier is 1440mm, and it weighs 1,410g. The wooden staff is 28mm diameter and appears to be softwood. There are three decorative metalwork pieces on display: the crook at the head, a handle (knop) at mid-height, and a tapered tip at the base. The display crozier screws apart at the top of the knop to form two pieces: a 700mm long lower section with a socket fixing, and a 755mm long upper section with a spigot fixing. The crook is 320mm long and curves to a diameter of 120mm. The knop is 105mm long and the tapered tip is 125mm long. The exposed wooden staff between the tip and the knop is 465mm long, and the staff between the knop and the crook is 420mm long. The third section of staff which is not displayed has not been measured. The gold band with inscription is loosely fixed around the upper half of the staff, and normally rests on the top of the knop (engraved text upside down).

detail of tip at base

detail of serpents on knop

The tail of the slain dragon in the crook has been fractured in four places. Most of the tiny gemstones are in place although a few seem to be missing. The enamel is in generally good condition but there are signs of wear and minor damage - especially in the tip where the white enamel lillies rest on a blue enamel background.

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