Inscriptions

Detail from Daniel Maclise, 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife', 1854
Detail of Daniel Maclise, 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife', 1854

An inscribed stone slab, is partly cut off by the edge of the painting. The Irish language inscription reads, Oroid do mac which translates as pray for the son of. It seems that Maclise wanted the viewer’s attention drawn to this inscription since the hunched over figure of a woman, and the intertwined hands of two dead warriors point towards it.  One interpretation is that mac could also be read as Maclise. The slab also includes some incised zoomorphic ornament in the form of an interlace snake. This decoration is executed in the Scandinavian Urnes style, a late Viking style of art. A similar interlaced snake also appears elsewhere in the painting in tattoo form.

Detail of tattoo and gold ornament from Daniel Maclise, 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife', 1854
Detail from Daniel Maclise, 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife', 1854

The sunburst motif appears as a tattoo and also on a gold bracelet. Maclise most likely based this design on the decorative motif found on some Irish gold dress fasteners. Such a fastener was illustrated in Charles Vallencey’s Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicus (1804) and it is possible that Maclise was aware of this publication.

The text inscribed on the many banners in the painting can also be deciphered. Maclise has included these banners so that viewers can identify the main characters in the story, such as the names of Anglo-Norman families – Fitzgerald, Fitzstephens, Raymond le Gros, Mounmaurice, Milo de Cogan and Prendergast. Diarmait’s banner is green and is labelled Dermot Mac Much[ada], while Strongbow is inscribed on a white banner decorated with gold snake interlace and the word Striguil.