The earliest wooden methers in Ireland were typically made from crab apple, yew, alder, willow or sycamore. Later versions were made in ceramic or precious metals and were decorated with celtic designs. The examples of the Mether held here in the Hunt Museum are all wooden versions. The National Museum of Ireland holds a collection of 124 methers and others can be found in a number of private collections and museums. In the Catalogue of The Royal Irish Academy, it is stated that “there is in that Collection, thirteen two-handled and thirteen four handled methers, in three of which latter the handles are prolonged into feet”.
The larger two handled versions were used for food storage. Tributes paid to the Abbey of St Augustine of Lisgoole consisted of “yearlie twenty fower methers of butter and fiftie methers of barlie” (Lowry-Corry, 1938, 224) and several larger methers have been found filled with bog butter. (Downey, Synnot, Kelly & Stanton 2006)
More basic versions of the mether made of bark strips on a wicker-work frame were used in farmhouses. Milk and buttermilk were drunk from these vessels.
Since ancient times, trophies have marked victories. The most common design for a sports trophy is based on a “loving cup”, a shared drinking container traditionally used at weddings and banquets. The GAA have repeated the use of the mether design quite a few times in various trophies awarded to winning teams.