Farm Baskets

Explore a selection of baskets used on the farm


The largest basket in the National Museum’s collection is one made of willow and hazel used to carry turf and pulled by a slide car. This type of basket was last used in the 1960s in Antrim, where it was known as a 'kesh' or 'kish'. It is on dispay in the ‘Harvesting the Turf’  exhibition in the Museum galleries in Turlough Park, Co. Mayo. 

A selection of excellently made creels, also known as cleeves are also on display. This type of basket had many uses such as carrying fish, seaweed, potatoes/vegetables or manure.   The creel was also recognised as a unit of measure or exchange.  They are generally rectangular but you find regional variations. For example creels made in the northern part of the country tend to have more softened rounded forms.  The pardóg, is a particular type of creel, carried in pairs on the back of a donkey. Pardóg baskets have hinged bottoms that can be opened to empty its load while still attached to the donkey.

Back baskets can be worn in different ways.  If provided with two straw ropes (sugán) it is worn like a knapsack with a rope around each shoulder.  If made with just one carrying rope, the basket is slung over one shoulder and the weight rests in the small of the back.  Back baskets can also be carried by a  rope resting on the chest.  When full, a back basket can weigh 10 stone or 63.6 kilograms.

Willow is the most common material used for making creels in the National Museum Collections.  But there are also examples of creels made from dock stems and from brambles or briars.  

Larger baskets are generally made in the stake and strand method - inserting the stakes or uprights into the ground and weaving around them to form the basket.  Most traditional Irish larger baskets constructed the rim and the base last.  A special weave, the mouthwale or ‘buinne beal’ was used for the rim -  it is a knot like weave that ensures the weaving does not slip off the stakes.  An open area, usually about half way up the creel known as  the ‘t-ais’ or window, eye or gill was another traditional feature.  

Explore the basket collection further by visiting the exhibitions galleries.  The following large baskets can be found in these exhibitions: 

Making the best of life exhibition.  

1. Cleeve made by Thomas Bournes, Poratcloy, Erris. The basket is made of dock stems. (F1959:432).

2. Cleeve or sea-weed back-basket, made by Michael Lavelle, Falmor, Belmullet. It is made of brambles/briars.  (F1959:43) 

Basketmakers exhibition:

1. Cleeve made by Sean O Curraoin Rossaveel, Galway, born c. 1890 and filmed making this basket. (F1967:48).   

 2. Pardóg, a hinge bottom creel, Made by Patrick Somers, Ballintogher, Sligo. (F1968:315). 

Harvesting the Turf exhibition

1. Back basket or cleeve complete with ‘eisreacha’ or shoulder ropes, made by Patrick Byron, Co. Roscommon. (F:1951.47).

2.‘Kish/kesh’ basket mounted on a slide car, used in Glenaan, Co. Antrim.  ( F:1953.32 a-b).

Tending the farm animals exhibition.

 1. Pair of cleeves, from Mohill,  Leitrim.  (F:1948.2&3).

2. Sheep crib, an inverted basket, associated with Kilcormac, Co. Offaly.(F1964:32).