A Little Bit of History
In the Dublin area, they are known as chaineys, though you won’t find that online or written down – and in fact most Dubliners have probably never heard of a chainey. These are the shards of pottery that wash up on beaches along the Irish Sea near Dublin*, and the word chainey is possibly derived from China, as in China pottery, specifically the willow-pattern wares which became popular from the late eighteenth century.**
Sea glass is not hard to find on some Dublin beaches, and bits of pottery are reasonably common, but it is rarer to find pottery or China with patterns on it, and rarer still to find the pieces that are our favourites – the ones that are like a phrase or a sentence from a bigger story.
Most chaineys we find have smooth, rounded edges, and our best guess is that they have been in the sea for around 150 years, some longer, some less long.
* Oddly, there is also a short stretch of the Grand Canal in Dublin that has chaineys alongside it; these chaineys have much rougher edges, and there is no sea glass. Otherwise the chaineys appear to date from the same period as the sea chaineys we have found. All of the chaineys on this site are sea chaineys.
All our chaineys come from the Dublin area. For the necklaces we have secured a ‘bail’ to them, at the back, and looped a strip of leather through the bail. We also have rings, in which the metal is nickel-, lead-, mercury- and cadmium-free.
If you want something truly, undeniably historical and unique, for yourself or as a gift for a friend or loved one, look no further!
** … chainey, chainies ‘broken bits of crockery’, used in play, particularly by girls. Jonathan Swift’s satirical manuscript ‘Irish Eloquence’ uses the word cheney (possibly chaney) simply to denote china pottery: “’Your …
The above is from the book Irish English Vol. 2, Jeffrey Kallen, p. 155. With thanks to GO’D and AO’D.