Heritage hot spots: History, nature, art, environment


National Museum of Ireland – Country Life

What is it?The Museum of Country Life is the newest of the four museums that make up the National Museum of Ireland. Opened in September 2001 to house the National Folklife Collection, the museum complex at Turlough Park, Co Mayo, includes purpose-built exhibition galleries in the grounds of the Victorian Turlough Park House, formerly the home of the Fitzgerald family.

Why visit?The museum has various collections that record and celebrate rural life in Ireland from 1850 to 1950. Some of the most interesting display the methods, tools and produce of blacksmiths, tinsmiths, wheelwrights, wood-turners, country coppers, thatchers, basketmakers, tailors and cobblers. Other exhibits deal with the political, economic and social changes in the period and the role of stories, myths and traditional beliefs alongside formal religion in people’s lives. The original drawingroom and library of Turlough Park House are also open to the public and furnished as they might have looked in 1900.

Why now?The exhibition Power and Privilege, comprising photographs of life in country houses from the National Photographic Archive, is on show for the first time in the west of Ireland. The photographs give an insight into daily life in the “Big Houses” of the 19th century, showing us what people wore, their modes of transport and the servants, farm workers and tenants who worked in the houses and gardens. The exhibition, which runs until April 15th, charts the evolution of photography and how the images were derived from negatives or prints. Also on show until the summer is the new hoard of early Bronze Age goldwork from Coggalbeg, Co Roscommon. The Museum of Country Life has an extensive programme of activities including the Big Performance for Little Christmas by musician, singer and composer John Doyle at 2.30pm tomorrow.

How to get thereThe National Museum of Ireland – Country Life is situated just off the N5, 8 km east of Castlebar, Co Mayo. It can also be reached by driving to Turlough village on the old road from Castlebar. It is is open from 10am-5pm from Tuesday to Saturday and from 2pm-5pm on Sundays. Admission free; museum.ie, 094-9031755.