Museum For All Ages

Clare Champion, Friday, 31st August, 2007

By Nicola Corless

Clare’s long reach in terms of politics, geography, history and archaeology is outlined in the exhibitions in the county museum in Ennis. The area has much to be proud of. From the early days of Catholic Emancipation to the formation of the state and, later, Ireland’s embrace of industry, Clare has been the constant backdrop.

The historic names of Daniel O’ Connell and Eamon de Valera are both linked with the county. In terms of economics, Shannon brought the travelling world the concept of duty and Ardnacrusha became home to Ireland’s largest river hydro-electric scheme. All of this supports the image of a progressive vibrant county.

However, perhaps one of the most striking revelations to emerge about Clare’s past, and one which many Munster rugby fans in the county would dismiss, is that as part of the kingdom of Thomond, Clare was once part of Connacht. That said, it was long before the time of Anthony Foley, or even Heineken Cups. Clare was only in Connacht until the mid- 16th century.

Despite the museum’s small size, relative to national museums, it still manages to cover 6,000 years of history and offers varying depths of knowledge to suit the avid and the indifferent visitor alike. The exhibition is divided into sections: earth, power, faith, water and energy. These changes are reflected in the colour schemes and art in the various areas.

According to Brendan O’Halloran, museum assistant, approximately 200 people visit the museum each day in peak season, most from America or France. However, even a Clare person would find it hard not to come away with new information about their home county if they put on the oversized headphones at the audio-visual units.

Be it Hencken’s Harvard expedition or the Roughan Hill settlement or perhaps the advent of the information age, there is an exhibition to suit all tastes. Equally the comfortable informality of Clare Museum means that an a la carte approach to the information displayed is acceptable and even encouraged.

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