Riches of Clare Now at Sisters of Mercy School, Ennis

Clare County Express, November 2000

An Ennis building that was constructed 135 years ago as a primary school today houses Riches of Clare, the county's museum. The Clare museum, officially opened last month by Síle de Valera, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, is a major cultural project developed by Ennis UDC in association with Clare County Council. Situated in the town plaza close to Daniel O'Connell monument at the Square, Ennis the town gallery venue houses the largest collection of artefacts on long-term loan to any regional museum.

With a combined floor area of 7,500 sq. feet the designers decided that the interactive media displays be used to draw the visitor into the venue and also educate the visitor while entertaining. Rather than follow a chronological layout the museum has decided to present all the exhibits using the concepts of earth, power, fire, faith and water. Under these five areas we move from exhibits from Roughan Hill to Mooghaun hillfort, from ancient spears and axes to gold artefacts from the mediaeval period.

But side by side with Dev's sinn Fein banner, Michéal O hEithir's 1914 hurling ball, Parnell's spade and Kevin Sheedy's jersey, our 1995 All-Ireland winners jersey and Noel Roche's jerseys. Museum Curator, John Rattigan, is rightly excited by the opening of Riches of Clare. Many of the objects are on display for the first time and it is a reflection of the rich cultural heritage of the county.

The project cost £4.2 million, £1 million of this came from the Depatment of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Equipment to the value of £137,000 was supplied by eircom's Ennis Information Age Town and there were further financial contributions from Ennis UDC and Clare County Council. The museum which is now open should be a major attraction to visitors and locals alike. Included among the 200 plus guests on opening night were Ned Kelly, keeper of antiquities, National Museum, Lucia Hartnett and Carol Smith, National Museum.

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