Broighter exhibition ‘most exciting we’ll ever have’

After years of lengthy negotiations, the famous Broighter Gold Hoard is coming home to the Roe Valley where it will be on display for just under two weeks, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

While the actual dates of when the hoard will be on show at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre have yet to be confirmed, it is thought it will be on loan from the National Museum in Dublin during November.

Limavady Council’s Development Services director Valerie Richmond told the ‘Journal’ it has been a long campaign to bring the hoard home.

“We’re all very excited as it has been a long time since the process started so we’re very pleased it’s now coming to fruition,” said Ms Richmond. “We’ve been in discussions for many years and it has been discussed at a fairly high political level on occasions with politicians at a ministerial level asking how we could get the Broighter Hoard up North. It is the most visited exhibition in the National Museum and it is very valuable to them so they have been reluctant for it to leave their possession, even for a short time.”

Discovered in 1896, the Broighter Gold collection has been described as “the greatest gold hoard in Ireland.” It was unearthed by local men Tom Nicholl and James Morrow as they ploughed a field outside Limavady, the collection consisted of necklaces, torcs, a collar and a miniature boat complete with oars and seats. Each of the items were made of gold in an ornamental style known as ‘La Tene.’

All the artefacts, with the exception of the boat, which is too fragile to be moved, according to Ms. Richmond, will be part of the exhibition. The cost of housing the exhibition in Limavady is thought to be in the region of £40,000.

It is understood once the exhibition finishes in Limavady it will travel on to the Derry City where it will also be on display, for around the same length of time, during its year as City of Culture.

Ms Richmond says having the famous gold collection in the borough is very special, and expects a high level of interest once the exhibition opens.

“Already we’ve had a good level of interest and I expect we will have weekend openings at the Arts Centre, when the collection is here, on Saturday and Sunday,” said Ms Richmond.

“We’ll be able to say more once we have the dates confirmed, but it will be before the end of the year.”

Ms Richmond added: “It is probably the most exciting exhibition that we will ever have in Limavady so it is very special for us, and for the Nicholl family, as well as all the work put into getting the Broighter Hoard here by staff and councillors.”

The news has been billed as ‘fantastic’ by Mayor Gerry Mullan who says the cost of approximately £40,000 to have the collection in the town will be worth it, but the long term goal would be to secure the Hoard in Limavady on a permanent basis.

Mayor Mullan added: “This is brilliant news, and will bring in thousands of visitors.”

Grandson of the man who unearthed the famous gold, Ronnie Nicholl spoke with the ‘Journal’ earlier this year about his memories of Tom Nicholl and his discovery.

Ronnie says he and his family can’t help but be proud of his grandfather.

“Yes, it is a very good thing, as I know they have been trying to get it here to Limavady for years,” he said. “People will go and see it, and talk about it so, yes, I suppose you could say I’m proud.”