The staff at Cavan County Museum. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

County Museum gearing up for busy Summer

As Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff heads into the peak summer season, staff are preparing to welcome visitors from across the globe to this charming repository of many fascinating artefacts and intriguing stories. However, there is much more to the museum than the permanent collection.

Originally a convent for the Poor Clare Sisters, the building dates back to 1872 and retains many of its original architectural features. Today, it is home to a diverse array of exhibitions, which vividly communicate Cavan’s story within Ireland’s broader historical context.

The museum’s outdoor space features its award-winning WWI Trench Experience, a permanent outdoor reconstruction, which has been replicated according to the manual produced by the Irish Guards and used by the Royal Irish Fusiliers at the Somme. The WWI Trench Experience was named as one of Ireland’s top 10 'must see' attractions by renowned travel writer Pól Ó Conghaile.

Other immersive outdoor attractions, which bring the country’s rich history to life, include the 1916 Rising Experience, the Battle of the Somme installation, and the ‘Road to War – Path to Reflection’ Exhibitions.

The museum also hopes to develop Ireland's first national Storytelling Centre. This centre will include indoor and outdoor performance and workshop space, as well as an archive room, and recording studio.

“Cavan County Council has done a stellar job in telling the story of Cavan, and indeed, of Ireland over the past 26 years,” explains Eoin Doyle, director of service at Cavan County Council, which manages the museum.

“So, in many respects, it’s a natural progression to continue to explore that theme of storytelling here and - judging by the success of our recent storytelling event - there is a great appetite among the public to further explore what is without doubt Ireland’s ‘national pastime’.”

In addition to being a hugely popular visitor attraction, Cavan County Museum’s primary mission is to collect, conserve, contextualise, and display the material, cultural, and historical heritage of County Cavan and its environs. As schools across the country close for the summer break, the staff are preparing for an influx of visitors.

“The museum is immensely popular with schools across the country, as it presents the history of Cavan, and of Ireland, in an accessible and entertaining way, without sacrificing any historical accuracy or detail. By lifting history off the page, the museum leaves an indelible impression upon these young minds, while also providing them with a fun day out,” says Mr Doyle.

Though its immersive and innovative outdoor exhibitions have drawn much attention, the museum itself is most impressive. It comprises internal galleries arranged over three floors featuring a range of unique artefacts dating from the stone age to the 20th century. Displays of notable interest include the Killycluggin stone, believed to be 4000-6000 years old, bog-butter, and a selection of Sheela-na-gigs. Other exhibitions tell the stories of the Great Famine, Percy French, the Lord Farnham, Cavan GAA, the Pig-House Collection, and Cavan’s ‘Women of Influence’.

“The detailed and intricate collections of the museum perfectly complement the renowned outdoor exhibitions, and reflective garden, while the recently opened Nuns’ Walk has proven to be an immensely popular addition to the museum’s offering, not only to visitors from home and abroad, but to the local community in Ballyjamesduff,” says Mr Doyle.

“Boasting 6,000-year-old artefacts, the visceral immediacy of the World War Trench and 1916 Experiences, relaxing outdoor walks, a café, and ample outdoor space, Cavan County Museum really is the perfect day out for families and visitors of all ages,” concludes Mr Doyle.