Trades and Crafts

Trades and Crafts in traditional life


Most furniture and furnishings found in 19th century traditional house were made by local craftspeople.  Traditional craft-workers learnt their skills through an informal apprenticeship of watching, helping and learning from the older generations. Their tools were often made by the local blacksmith and were greatly valued and handed down from one generation to the next. 

Traditional life changed in the 20th century. The tractor replaced the horse on the farm. The work of the local blacksmith, harness-maker and tinsmith disappeared. Cheaper mass produced Delph, plastics and  cardboard brought an end to everyday baskets. Factory-made furniture using new materials such as plywood replaced traditional furniture.  Clothing once made at home was increasingly shop bought. 

Michael O'Malley, Co. Mayo. Making a lobster pot from heather.

Today, the collections of the National Museum of Ireland offer an opportunity to explore the knowledge and expertise of traditional craftspeople. The objects they made also tells us about the realities of traditional life. 

Explore the collections further below and visit the Museum galleries to examine everyday hand made  objects. 

Basket Making

Basket Making

Explore the Museum's traditional basket collection

The Tinsmith

The Tinsmith

Discover the craft of the tinsmith