The use of beads for counting prayers in widely prated in many religions. Various forms were used by early Christians and by the twelfth century the use of beads for counting the paternoster – the Our Father or Lords Prayer- was widespread. The promotion of the rosary from the latin rosarium, rose garden, to a series of prayers counted on a string of beads is credited to the Dominican friars of the fifteenth century. Various forms of the rosary were used, but its essence was the decade or ten Ave (Hail Mary) separated by a pater (Pater Poster, Our Father). The date of its introduction to Ireland is unclear, but by the seventeenth century, it was well established as both a private and a household prayer.
Many Irish rosaries are referred to as ‘Galway Rosaries’ and typically bear a strong Spanish stylistic influence. This five-decade example has amber Aves, of various shapes, and silver spherical Papers strung together. The 7.5cm long silver cross is made from two intersecting silver tubes and ends. There is a green tassel at the end of the cross, but those from at the ends of the transom are no longer extant.