Happy Days and Hard Times

A collection of visitor memories inspired by the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life


Murty Culloty’s Cottage Interior, c.1946 by Seán Keating © Estate of Seán Keating, IVARO Dublin, 2018

Happy Days and Hard Times is a collection of visitor memories inspired by the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life. The stories and memories are complemented by archival images of Irish country life and artefacts from the Irish Folklife Collection.

The book is the outcome of a memory book project started in 2013 by Documentation Officer Joanne Hamilton. The project was initially designed to actively encourage Museum visitors to engage in the process of reminiscence during their visit the galleries. 

Between 2013 and 2018 a number of visitor accounts have been contributed to the project. These reflect the public’s willingness to include their personal stories and memories as part of the broader narrative that the Museum of Country Life represents.

Many of the accounts gathered demonstrate the high level of engagement that visitors have with the Museum and its collections. They also represent the diverging emotional impact that recalling people places and objects from the past has on an individual level.

Acknowledging the potential of the memories and stories collected, and in order to share them with a wider public, they have now been organised into a book entitled Happy Days and Hard Times which will be launched at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in early December.

The book, which has a foreword written by Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh Professor Emeritus of History and former Vice-President of the National University of Ireland Galway, will be on sale from the shop at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo from December 3rd.

You can still contribute your memories and stories of country life to the memory book project. Memory sheets are available on Level C in the Museum galleries or you can download a memory sheet fill it in and returning it to Joanne Hamilton, The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.