Welcome to Ogham Treasure
Ogham treasure by Katie McCay
Irish Jewellery designer Katie McCay, an Athlone native, has been designing and creating unique and meaningful jewellery inspired by Ireland’s ancient past for almost ten years.
Since childhood Katie has had a fascination with ancient writing.
Katie’s journey of admiration for Ireland’s rich history, heritage and culture led to her studying Celtic Archaeology at NUI Galway where she discovered a keen interest in ancient irish metalworking. She honed her craft in metalworking for a number of years before returning to her hometown and opening her successful craft gallery and store, The Bastion Gallery more than twenty five years ago.
Her attraction to Ogham, combined with her craftsmanship in ancient irish metalworking allowed her turn her fascination into a passion and so Ogham Treasure was established in 2012. Each piece of jewellery in the Ogham Treasure collection represents an ancient word or letter that has special meaning in this secret and ancient Celtic writing. Crafted in silver, each piece is designed and made using traditional and modern jewellery making techniques by either sculpting or carving. A unique connection to an ancient tradition.
Ogham was the first ever written form of Gaelic and is referred to as the “Celtic Tree Alphabet”. Commonly believed to be named after the Irish God of Speech and Language, Ogma, it is estimated to have been used from about the fourth to the seventh century AD. The Ogham alphabet originally consisted of twenty letters called Feda “trees” arranged into four groups called Aicme “families”. Each character was named after native Irish trees that were of great importance to the early Irish society including Birch, Alder, Willow, Oak, Hazel, Pine, Ash and Yew. These trees were sacred to our Irish ancestors and have been spiritually linked to Irish culture and society for millenia.
Ogham is represented by a series of lines running along a central line. Each letter is represented by up to five strokes and placed in relation to the base line with the different groups determining the direction of the strokes. It reads upwards or from left to right and was mostly used for short inscriptions such as names. This unique and intricate writing was found carved on stone in many parts across Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Today, there are approximately 400 known Ogham stones still remaining in Ireland. These remaining inscriptions containing Ogham are almost exclusively made up of personal names and marks of land ownership. Although short-lived, Ogham shows the versatility and inventiveness of its creators and reflects the variety of cultures coexisting in Ireland at the time. The visually striking script still enchants and mystifies people all over the world and has inspired a variety of artworks and keepsakes for many years.