The National Museum of Ireland's newest branch, the Museum of Country Life in Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, received the prestigious Interpret Ireland Award in 2002 from the Association of Heritage Interpretation in recognition of its "excellent interpretative practice contributing to greater awareness and understanding of Ireland's Heritage".
The award's citation commended the Museum of Country Life for providing "a building that is both efficient and sensitive in the ways it sits in the landscape of Turlough Park; and above all for such wonderful displays of artefacts that make vivid the lives and hardships of recent ancestors whose way of life has now gone.
The judges also commented that "the displays are a triumph of dealing with themes largely through the excitement of real objects that are both imaginatively juxtaposed and close enough to the visitor to engage the imagination. At times a real sense of spiritual loss is felt by the visitor, especially in a section like ''Life in the Community'' where festivals and public events -like St Bridget''s Day,May Day, Lunasa, christenings, first communions, weddings and wakes are so brilliantly recalled. Altogether one feels a deep loss at vanished lives (so recently vanished) but also a huge gain in the meticulous and imaginative way in which these lives have been recorded in this excellent new museum". Presented by Awards Secretary, Mr. John Iddon, this award was accepted on behalf of the National Museum of Ireland by Mr. Paul Doyle, Manager/Keeper of the Museum of Country Life. Mr. Doyle expressed his delight at receiving this award which "emphasises the importance of the Museum of Country Life as an education resource and the promotion of our cultural heritage both nationally and internationally".
The Museum of Country Life, which is a branch of the National Museum of Ireland, opened in September 2001. The Museum's collection represents the traditions of rural life throughout Ireland from 1850-1950. Fascinating artefacts deal with domestic life, agriculture, fishing and hunting, clothing and textiles, furniture and fittings, trades and crafts, transport, sports and leisure and religion. The Museum runs regular events to raise awareness of its collection, traditional crafts, customs and traditions.This ongoing programme of events was recognised in late '03 at the Museum of the Year Awards, when the President presented the Education and Outreach Department with an award for "Best Access and Outreach Initiative" for its lively and dynamic education programme. The excellent ls"hands-on' public programmes, consisting of art and craft workshops,demonstrations and performances are extremely popular with both adults and children.
Located four miles east of Castlebar (on the N5), the Museum's facilities include free parking, Museum shop and cafeacute;, audio-visual room and activity and resource rooms. Admission to the Museum is free. All Museum buildings are wheelchair accessible.
Spearheaded by the National Museum, the then Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands and supported by Mayo County Council and the Office of Public Works, the development at Turlough Park represents a total investment of approximately _19m and took almost five years to complete. Bord Faacute;ilte, through the European Regional Development Fund under the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme, supported the extensive renovated gardens. The Exhibition Galleries, which total approximately 1800 sq. metres, were designed by the Office of Public Works.
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