Ten thousand years ago, before the coming of Christianity in Ireland, the rivers served a very important role in the lives of the people living along its banks.  It was their source of food, and a place where their cattle and crops thrived on the nourished plains.  It also acted as a barrier between opposing armies and clans.  People saw the rivers as powerful objects and worshiped river gods.  Often people placed weapons and ornaments of precious metal in the river as offerings to these gods. 

The river gods of Ireland were replicated in Ireland's architecture by Edward Smyth, when he designed the keystone sculptures depicting the faces of the river gods, on the Customs House in Dublin, in the late 18th century.

This example is a replica of the Shannon head on the Custom House, Dublin.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Old Dublin Society.