1798 Pike and Other Riches of Clare are Exhibited

Irish Times, October 16, 2000

A sliotar owned by Michéal Ó Hehir's father, a 1798 pike donated by RTÉ music presenter P.J. Curtis and a concertina owned by musician Willie Clancy are among the collection assembled by the new Clare Museum in Ennis.

The £3.2 million museum, officially opened in a former Sisters of Mercy school and chapel, is part of a network of eight around the State working closely with the National Museum and borrowing from its artefacts.

"Riches of Clare", the permanent exhibition at Clare Museum, has the largest collection ever borrowed from the National Museum's stores in Kildare Street and Collins Barrracks, amounting to more than 300 artefacts brought back to their county of origin, according to Mr. Eamonn Kelly, keeper of antiquities at the National Museum. These are not "second-rate material from the bottom drawer", he said, "but important antiquities". The establishment of designated museums was the realisation of an objective dating back to 1972, he added, and it was the start of a process to expand collections and develop relations with local communities.

One of the most important exhibits is the Cahercommaun Collection, artefacts excavated in 1934 by a Harvard based team, giving insights into a medieval economy.

But attracting more interest is a hurley which belonged to one of the GAA's founders, Michael Cusack, the sliotar owned by earl Jim Ó Hehir, trainer of the Clare All-Ireland hurling team in 1913, and footage from 1923 of Michael McTigue winning his light heavyweight world title against "Battling Siki".

The 20-round fight was held in Dublin on St. Patrick's day and museum staff had to do some delicate side-stepping with Big Fights Inc., the Don King owned company which held the copyright on the footage.

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