Clare Champion, Friday, December 15, 2006
More than 1700 school children visited the Clare Museum as part of their curricular studies during the year and of that number nearly 70% were Clare students.
Ennis CBS accounted for just under a quarter (416) of all visiting students. School trips were also organised by Cloughleigh National School, Clondrinagh National School, Rice College, Holy Family National School, Cahera National School, Ennistymon Community College, Cratloe National School, St Patrick’s Comprehensive School, Coolmeen National School, St Senan’s Community College, Gaelscoil Mhicil Ciosog, Tulla National School, St Caiman’s, Doora National School, Ennis Community College and Clarecastle National School. Meanwhile, all 37 students of Cloonaha National School visited the Ennis-based museum in January.
Of the total visits, the students came from 36 different national and secondary schools in Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Meath and Offaly. Coincidentally, the number of school field trips to the museum has increased year on year since the abolition of admission fees for all school children in early 2002.
John Rattigan, curator of Clare Museum said, “This has truly been a phenomenal year for visitors to the museum and is a reflection of the wide ranging and unique collection of artefacts and exhibits on display. Clare Museum is a wonderful heritage and tourist attraction and I hope that even greater numbers of schoolchildren will visit us in 2007. The museum is an excellent resource for the curricular needs of schoolchildren and helps to illustrate that history is not a thing of the past”.
The involvement of younger members of the community in the local museum is particularly evident in the hugely successful Clare Museum web site quiz, which is held in association with Clare Education Centre.
Children from all over Clare take part in the monthly quiz based on the captions that accompany the artefacts displayed at www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/claremuseum/index.htm. Students answer the questions, which are placed on the Clare Education Centre website, by visiting the museum site from their school computer.
Commenting on the quiz, Mr Rattigan said, “With a ratio of one internet-enabled PC to every nine students in Ennis schools, the challenge for the museum was to find a way of using its website to help promote the collections as educational resources for the community. With prizes awarded to the winner of the quiz, the initiative has proven very successful with school-children. It has also provided them with a method of learning local history in a way that is educational and entertaining while simultaneously improving their IT skills”.
Clare Museum is open all year round and will be expecting many more visitors in the run-up to Christmas following the huge public response to its recent exhibition of artefacts uncovered along the route of the N18 Ennis Bypass. The month-long exhibition features a full collection of archaeological finds dating from the Bronze Age to modern times. The free exhibition also represents a final opportunity for the public to view the artefacts before they are sent for final storage at the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.
“Clare Museum’s policy of hosting regular high profile temporary exhibitions is set to continue in the near future. An exhibition celebrating the life of Dr Brendan O’Regan – one of Ireland’s most noted peace ambassadors and initiators of commercial and industrial initiatives – will be held early next year”, Mr Rattigan concluded.
Clare Museum, which is funded jointly by Clare County Council and Ennis Town Council, will publish its annual visitor figures for 2006 later this month. School bookings can be made by contacting Clare Museum at 065-6823382. Worksheets and further information about the museum can be found on the museum website.