Official 10th Birthday Celebrations
10 years on and the award-winning National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo continues to go from strength to strength. Over 1.1m visitors have visited the permanent folklife and temporary exhibitions and enjoyed the numerous events and public programmes which have been organised since the Museum opened in September 2001. Today the Museum celebrated its many achievements in style.
Commenting at the official birthday celebrations in Turlough Park today, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. said: “The Museum of Country Life offers visitors a different experience to the traditional concept of a museum, providing an insight into the culture and society of Ireland's past. Although the museum has been open only ten years, it has firmly established itself as one of the principal cultural and tourism destinations outside Dublin with more than 100,000 visitors each year – a total of more than 1.1 million people have visited it since it opened in September 2001. The decision to locate a branch of the National Museum outside the capital city has resulted in a unique museum of which the country can be proud and it is a pleasure to celebrate its success ten years on. ”
According to Dr. Pat Wallace, Director, National Museum of Ireland, the Museum of Country Life has surpassed all expectations in the decade since opening. “The Museum of Country Life is our branch of the National Museum west of the Shannon. It has delivered quality exhibitions and events year after year, and many of the exhibitions developed here have been borrowed by other museums throughout Ireland, as well as being displayed in Collins Barracks. This is a great tribute to the staff of the Museum.”
A large crowd enjoyed the festive atmosphere in the Museum grounds. Master craftspeople Eamonn Hartley, Beth Moran and Liam Flynn demonstrated their intricate skills in wood turning, copper wheel glass engraving and weaving. The Museum’s Education and Outreach Department invited all guests, young and old, to enjoy the ever-popular ceramics plate painting workshops. Traditional music and dancing provided an opportunity to relax and enjoy the atmosphere while the traditional block-wheel cart and barrel top wagons provided wonderful examples of the types of specialist public programmes which have been run by the Museum staff in the last ten years. The wonderful threshing demonstrations by Seamus McEllin emphasised the traditional harvesting methods so brilliantly displayed in the Museum’s permanent collections while the vintage car display blended in well against the formidable background of Turlough Park House.
A retrospective exhibition of posters from the Museum’s temporary exhibition programme over the last ten years is on display in the Museum Café, alongside an exhibition of photographs from Museum events held between 2001-2011.
Home to the national folklife collection, the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life is housed in modern, purpose-built display galleries and storage facilities, set in the beautiful grounds of the imposing 19th century Turlough Park House. The Museum houses – and displays – the objects used by ordinary people in rural Ireland in their every-day lives in the century or so between the end of the Great Famine and the aftermath of the Second World War. It offers a fascinating insight into these people’s lives.
In the decade since opening, the Museum of Country Life has surpassed all expectations and has firmly established itself as one of the country’s premier visitor attractions. Each year, more than 100,000 people visit the Museum. The Museum’s millionth visitor came through the doors in August 2010, less than nine years after it first opened.
Prestigious awards have also helped to establish the Museum as an important national cultural resource. Only two months after opening the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life was awarded the prestigious title of “Museum of the Year 2001” by the Gulbenkian Foundation and the Heritage Council of Ireland, in association with the Northern Ireland Museums Council. The Education Programme has also been recognised in the various awards which the museum has received. In 2004 & 2009 the Sandford Award For Heritage Education was awarded by the Heritage Education Trust ‘in recognition of the quality education delivered” to schools. (This Award is presented every 5 years). The “Best Access & Outreach Initiative” award was presented by President Mary McAleese for its lively and dynamic education programme at the 2003 Museum of the Year Awards.
In addition to the permanent displays, there is an ever-changing programme of temporary exhibitions. Over the years, these have covered subjects as varied as childhood in the 1950s and 1960s, the dancehall scene in Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s, Aran knitwear and the way it was marketed, how Ireland was portrayed in travel posters in the middle of the 20th century – and this is only a small selection!
The Museum also runs a constantly changing programme of workshops, events and festivals for adults, families and schools. The regular agenda consists of talks, demonstrations and performances as well as hands-on art and craft workshops. Established in 2005, Féile na Tuaithe, the Museum’s weekend celebration of all that is excellent in both traditional and contemporary craftsmanship, has continued to grow and now attracts approx 25,000 to the Museum grounds each year.
The Museum’s facilities also include free parking, shop and café, audio-visual room and activity and resource rooms. All Museum buildings are wheelchair accessible. The beautiful grounds are ideal for leisurely walks after a visit to the Museum.
Tel: (094) 90 31755
Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo