MATCHING HATS ?Ballina’s Grace and Tara Healy enjoying the Feile na Tuaithe weekend.
Beekeepers, bakers, scarecrows and fairies at Féile na Tuaithe
Future of National Museum of Country Life guaranteed at record-breaking festival
AS a record-breaking 28,000 people attended the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) Country Life’s Féile na Tuaithe over the weekend, Director Raghnall Ó Floinn has confirmed the future of the County Mayo branch.
Despite concerns about Government cutbacks to the museums last year which have led to cutbacks in some services, Mr Ó Floinn said: “The future of the Museum of Country Life is absolutely guaranteed. I confess I had some misgivings about the folklife collection, which was originally meant to be housed in the National Museum of Decorative Art and History, at Collins Barracks, being moved down here to Mayo [when it was decided to open the first museum outside the capital back in 2002].”
He observed that his first visit as Director to the féile was ‘such a revelation’.
“The success of Féile, particularly in the last two years, demonstrates the curiosity of people to engage with their cultural heritage. The capital investment in institutions such as the Museum of Country Life is as important for Irish people to the economy and tourism as the capital investment in infrastructure, such as roads,” Mr Ó Floinn said.
“This was decentralisation before the Government ever started it. There is such a sense of ownership between the museum and the locality and its people. You can’t get that same sense in Dublin,” he added.
Biggest free festival
Dubbed as the country’s biggest free family festival, the shenanigans over the weekend throughout the grounds of the scenic 30-acre Turlough Park, included scarecrow and fairy trails, beekeepers and basketmakers, blacksmiths and bakers, pipe bands and sean nós dancers as well as galleries of stalls filled with local crafts and artisan foods.
The Art Trail, which led through the ancient woodlands and alongside the turlough (lake) embraced the theme of “Welcome to the Stranger: Migrant people, places and spaces”.
The Museum of Country Life is one of four national museums and is unique in its location outside the capital city. Last year in excess of 110,000 people visited the museum, an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year.
“Féile na Tuaithe represents a successful collaboration with Mayo County Council, local enterprises, local media and the goodwill of the general public,” Mr Tony Candon, the museum’s manager said.
He noted that the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life was ‘a major part of the tourism infrastructure in the West of Ireland’ and, moreover, ‘a significant contributor to the local economy’ since it opening in 2001.