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Cow Trammel

Used for restraining cows in byre, County Fermanagh.

This type of cow trammel was once widely used in the Lisnaskea district of County Fermanagh for tying cows in byres.


This cow trammel consists of a curved piece of wood 67cm long and rectangular in section 5.5cm wide by 3.5cm thick. The piece tapers for the last 5.5cm to a width of 2.0cm at both ends. The corners of the board are rounded. 7cm from each end, holes have been bored through. Through one of these a double piece of wire has been put to form a loop. Through the other hole a rope is placed and held in place by one end being knotted. The other end of the rope is tied into a slip knot.

How was a cow trammel used?

This type of cow trammel was once widely used in the Lisnaskea district of County Fermanagh for tying cows in byres. A wooden stake was set vertically in the floor of the byre. The wire string of the trammel was slipped over the stake. The cow’s neck went between the concave side of the trammel and the stake. The trammel was fastened in place by pulling the knot on the rope through the eye of the loop on the rope, the rope having been fixed around the stake.

How did this object enter the National Museum of Ireland?

This cow trammel (F:1966.387), was something of an oddity when it arrived into the collections of the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) in 1966. In fact, the NMI’s Director admitted at the time that he had never seen or even heard of such a device before but keen to gather objects that were quickly disappearing from use, the Director asked James Ingram, a famer in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh to make this cow trammel. This object made it to the NMI through Michael J. Murphy, a collector with the Irish Folklore Commission.

Similar objects in the Irish Folklife Collection

The Irish Folklife Collection is held at the NMI-Country Life in Castlebar, County Mayo. Among some 35,000 objects are a number of objects that were used to restrain farm animals. These include fetters and spancels made mainly from available, organic material. For further information on the Irish Folklife Collection's agricultural material visit Agriculture Collection.


Cow Trammel is located at:
Country Life

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Corinthian Helmet

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Cuneiform Tablets: the Genesis of Documentation

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