The Ros Tapestry Lovers

Michelle Obama Views  Ros Tapestry Panel at Farmleigh May 2011

Exchange: the Irish and Normans mingle at the fair

In the grounds of St. Mary’s Church, a foreign juggler sets to work, to entertain the crowds attending the May fair in Ros.

The ground is undulating and he is on stilts. He can see some pretty girls – a redhead walking with her Norman boyfriend….But the beasts stampeding through the Earl’s gate into the market area have a wild look, particularly the hairy swine. He would have to avoid them.

The Italian bankers and the tax collectors are there however, ensconced behind their chequered cloth. They will go home rich at the end of the day. He hopes that his friend – the musician with the yellow breeches – will collect for them both, and in the meanwhile, he must not break his neck….

The panel shows imported slaves being led to the market, joined by dealers arriving with hunting dogs, horses and falcons. Ros depended heavily on produce from the surrounding hinterland. Sheep and corn from the manorial farms and Cistercian granges ensured that the town remained wealthy and influential. Even the Black Death in 1345 failed to entirely extinguish her stellar ranking amongst the competitive ports of Leinster. The dreams of William and Isabel had been amply fulfilled. 

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