300% Rise in Visitors to Clare Museum

Clare Champion, Friday, December 30, 2005

The numbers of visitors to the Clare Museum has increased by a massive 300% in just two years.

Museum Curator, Mr John Rattigan reports a 26% increase in visitors to Clare Museum during 2005. A total of 43,000 people visited the facility and for the first time the numbers have exceeded the visitor figures at Kerry County Museum.

The increase follows on from 2004 which saw the visitor figures rise from 9,000 to 34,000, a 300% increase in just two years.

The local-authority run museum has again extended its lead over Waterford Treasures, and is second only to Cork Public Museum which hosted many European City of Culture activities.

“While Clare Museum is still an important tourist attraction in Ennis, much of this years success can be put down to the increased development of the museum as a community resource” says museum curator, John Rattigan.

Clare Museum, which is funded jointly by Clare County Council and Ennis Town Council, is heavily involved in the Clare Heritage Circle. This network of community based heritage attractions was spearheaded jointly with the Clare Heritage Office resulting in successful collaborations particularly in areas exhibitions and marketing.

In the Spring, the Casement in Germany exhibition which featured little known letters from the Clare County Archives written by the Irish patriot Roger Casement received National and International publicity, and was a major attraction locally.

“A very conscious effort was made connect with the local community by all the staff through outreach initiatives, which included a seminar on the archaeological finds along the Ennis bypass, the hosting of exhibitions, outreach projects to Daycare centres, educational initiatives and visits to schools”, said Mr Rattigan.

“Many of these projects were made possible through co-operation with Clare County Library, the County Archives and the Arts Office leading to the efficient use of resources” he added.

He put the visitor figures for the museum in a context, explaining that of the thirteen local-authority museums in the country, Cork Public Museum, attracted 55,000 visitors during Cork’s hosting of special activities associated with the European City of Culture.

The Ennis-based museum came ahead of Kerry County Museum, the most successful local authority museum in 2004 and which last year attracted 35,000 visitors.

He also revealed that the policy of regular high profile temporary exhibitions is set to continue in the future. An exhibition of the life and achievements of Dr Brendan O’Regan is being considered for the year ahead.

At present From There to Here, an exhibition on the state visits of Dr Patrick Hillery is on display to the public and was recently and featured on RTE’s Nationwide programme. It continues until the end of February and it is anticipated that many schools will visit in the New Year.

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