One of Ireland's largest bells took 400,000 hammer blows

One of the largest bells ever made in Ireland will be unveiled today to commemorate the epic journey of an Irish missionary over a millennium ago.

One of Ireland's largest bells took 400,000 hammer blows

West Cork-based sculptor Holger Lonze will be in Bangor, Co Down later to see his Fluctus Angelorum artwork — which took over 400,000 hammer blows to sculpt and tips the scales at three quarters of a tonne — being unveiled to the public.

The piece was commissioned by Ards and North Down Borough Council to commemorate the journey of St Columbanus from Bangor via France and Switzerland to Bobbio in Italy 1,400 years ago.

Mr Lonze modelled his sculpture on the ninth century 35-cm high hand-held ‘Bangor Bell’, a supreme example of early Christian metalwork unearthed at Bangor Abbey in the late 1700s, and which is now kept at the North Down Museum.

He spent four months working with artist Donagh Carey to form its surface, which was then welded onto a solid stainless steel frame.

Its front face is shaped like the surface of the sea with breaking waves and an ocean-blue patina to mark Columbanus’s epic voyage across the Irish Sea.

The bell is 3.7m high but rises to 4.8m when on its granite base. It is lit internally and externally lit at night.

“The sculpture combines the form of the iconic Irish handbell and the ever-present sea,” Mr Lonze said.

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