This exhibition contains the objects relating to the various skills practised in rural Ireland between 1850 and 1950. It also displays the methods, tools and produce of the blacksmith, tinsmith, wheelwright, wood turner and carpenter, country cooper, harness maker, thatcher, basketmaker, tailor and cobbler.
During this time, most of the objects that people needed for their daily lives were made by hand using locally available raw materials. Many householders, adept in a range of crafts, provided for their own needs by making objects such as wicker baskets, wooden furniture and clay vessels. However, most objects were made by local craftsmen such as the blacksmith or wood turner.
Although the objects made by the country craft workers were often beautiful in form, they were primarily influenced by practical use or function rather than aesthetics. Traditional craft workers generally didn't use written measurements or patterns; they relied instead on the skill and accuracy developed through many years of rigorous apprenticeship and experience. Their skills were passed from one generation to the next, often within the same family, resulting in several generations of craft workers who kept traditional patterns and forms in the objects they created. Their tools were greatly valued and usually made by the local blacksmith, wood turner or carpenter. Those tools were also handed down from one generation to the next. These craftsmen were very important members of the community, providing the necessary goods and services to the local people, and were highly respected for their skills.