This baptismal font was formerly in the Church of Ireland church at Anneville or Clonard Old (ME047-007002-). It was moved to St Finian's R.C. Church in 1991. The font is carved from limestone and is octagonal in shape with deeply chamfered under panels depicting a range of biblical scenes. The inner basin of the font is circular and it has concave sides and a central drain. The font stands on a similarly deeply carved octagonal base which sits on a rectangular modern base. The font is somewhat small and it has been suggested that perhaps it originally stood on a medieval pedestal or that there was a short shaft which would have connected the base and font. All the panels of the font and base are decorated. The execution of the carving suggests that the carver was a skilled amateur and not a master craftsman.
Beginning with the Flight into Egypt and proceeding from left to right, we see the Blessed Virgin holding the infant Jesus while seated on a donkey, with Joseph wearing a cloak and holding the reigns walking along side.
The next panel comprises a winged angel holding a book with an interlacing design underneath and it has been suggested that it may have been a 'filler'.
The Baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan is illustrated on the next panel. Jesus is depicted standing in the river Jordan and John the Baptist is depicted by his side baptising him with water from a vessel. The upper part of the panel depicting John the Baptist has been damaged and so it is hard to discern. To the right there is an elongated tree with pairs of opposed leaves and two berries on top of the stem growing out of a vase. This too has been interpreted as a possible 'filler'. The hypothesis that these panels are mere fillers is a little simplistic – it is likely that these depictions had symbolic meanings and messages that are now lost to us today. It is a little convenient for us to label them as fillers.
Six winged angels are depicted on the following three panels, five hold blank shields and the sixth one holds an open book. It is possible that the blank shields could originally have been painted with coats of arms or other emblems.
The next panel is divided into two niches – in one a winged angel is depicted pointing to an open scroll. In the second niche St Peter is depicted sitting and holding the symbolic key (his emblem)in his left hand and in his right hand a sword.
The eight panel illustrates a Bishop and angel with an open book. The former is wearing a mitre and is holding a crozier in his left hand and is blessing with this right hand - and it is locally thought to be St. Finnian of Clonard. The lower part of the font has four panels of shield-bearing angels some not fully carved and four panels of foliate motifs - vines and grapes, oak leaves and acorns. (Roe 1968; Hickey 1998, 520-2)
See the attached image of the Flight into Egypt (034) and a general view (055)
Compiled by: Niall Kenny
Date of upload: 30 January 2013
Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage