Churning back the hands of time

The Clare Champion, Friday, November 23, 2007

They were ‘churning’ back the years in Kilmaley recently when residents of the local Day Care Centre gave a demonstration of butter making. The residents of Kilmaley Day Care Centre used an authentic butter churn to give the children of Kilmaley National School a glimpse of the past.

The demonstration was organised by the Clare Museum as part of its outreach work in communities across the county.

According to Mr. John Rattigan, Curator, Clare Museum, “I brought a handling collection from the museum to the day care centre, and tried to encourage people to bring in artefacts from their own homes. Over the next couple of weeks, we found that we had amassed most of the equipment needed to make home made butter in the traditional way, and we decided to give it a go.”

He continued, “ Most of the material is probably less than 50 years old, and I was told that the glass churn represented the height of fashion in 1950’s Ireland. Somebody else brought in the butter pats for shaping the butter and, more importantly, all brought in the knowledge of how to make butter.”

Commenting on the success of the demonstration, Mr. Rattigan explained, “The home made butter-making exhibition taught those present that history is not a thing of the past. This is living history, bringing history to life. Cross-generational work like this is extremely educational and rewarding for all concerned.”

Mary Ita Griffin, Manager of the Kilmaley Day Care centre added, “None of the children present realised that butter was once made at home by their grandparents generation. The fascination of watching cream turn into golden butter proved to be an enjoyable learning experience for kids and adults alike. I would like to express my gratitude to Clare Museum, the children of Kilmaley National School, and, most of all, everyone who attends Kilmaley Day Care Centre for their enthusiasm.”

Clare Museums outreach programme has been well received around the county since its conception in early 2005. During 2005 and 2006, the clients of Ennistymon Hospital and Day Care Centre and Raheen Hospital and Day Care Centre were invited to take part in a reminiscence project called Preserving the Past for the Future.

Participants were invited to bring family heirlooms, or objects that represented the lives or achievements of either themselves or their relatives, and to recall memories associated with them. This information was then recorded, and photographs were taken for posterity.
In May 2006, Clare Museum engaged in outreach work with the employees of Irish Country Pottery, which provides employment for the disabled persons while producing first rate pottery.

The outreach programme has recently extended to Regina House in Kilrush.

Press Cuttings