Museum of Country Life

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National Museum of Ireland – Country Life
Ard-Mhúsaem na hÉireann - Saol na Tuaithe
Museum of Country Life.jpg
Landlord’s old house next to the museum
Museum of Country Life is located in Ireland
Museum of Country Life
Location within Ireland
Established September 2001 (2001-September)
Location Turlough Park, Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland
Coordinates 53°53′01″N 9°12′27″W / 53.883584°N 9.207623°W / 53.883584; -9.207623
Type National museum
Visitors 100,000[1]
Curator Tony Candon (keeper)
Architect Thomas Newenham Deane, Dublin
Public transit access Castlebar railway station Iarnród Éireann
Bus Éireann routes: 52, 60, 440, 456
Website Museum of Country Life website
National Museum of Ireland network

The Museum of Country Life is located in Turlough Village, 8 km (5.0 mi) northeast of Castlebar, County Mayo in Ireland. Established in 2001, the museum is part of the National Museum of Ireland and is the only national museum outside of Dublin.[2] The museum exhibits the way of life of rural Irish people between 1850 and 1950, and it is in the grounds of Turlough Park House. There are displays about the home, the natural environment, trades and crafts, communities, and working on the land and water.


Turlough House was designed by Thomas Newenham Deane, who also designed the Kildare Street branch of the National Museum of Ireland.[2] It was built from 1863–1867, and was owned by the Fitzgerald family of Turlough.[3]

In 1991, the house and 36 acres were purchased by the Mayo County Council. The house was renovated and an adjacent museum building was constructed, and the Country Life Museum opened in September, 2001.[2] The upstairs of the house is used as offices by the museum staff, and the downstairs is on show to the public.

Landscape surrounding the Museum of Country Life.

The National Museum of Ireland and Museum of Country Life has undergone a decrease in funding from €19m in 2008 to less than €12m in 2014. Although there were tentative plans to close some of the museum branches or initiate an entrance fee, as of 2014, these plans have not gone into effect.[4][2]


The museum has both permanent and temporary exhibitions, including:

  • Michael Davitt Exhibition, an exhibition to commemorate the life of Michael Davitt, the founder of the Irish National Land League.[5]
  • The Cross of Cong, a 12th-century processional cross that purportedly contains a piece of the True Cross, and is considered one of Ireland's most important medieval art treasures.[6] The cross was kept at Cong Abbey in County Mayo until 1839 when it was given to the Royal Irish Academy and then the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.[7][8] In 2010, the cross was returned to County Mayo to be displayed at the Museum of Country Life for one year.[6][9]
  • Power and Privilege: Photographs of the Big House in Ireland 1858-1922, an exhibit showing the lives of the gentry and their servants.[10]
  • The Coggalbeg hoard, a bronze-age, gold collar and discs that were dug up in a bog near Strokestown in 1945. The hoard had been stored in a Pharmacy safe until the safe was stolen in 2009. The contents of the safe, including the gold objects which were presumably overlooked, were found in a dumpster.[11]


  1. ^ Mark O'Regan (25 November 2014). "Historic visitor numbers for National Museum". Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Edwin McGreal; Neill O'Neill; Áine Ryan (9 September 2014). "Fears for future of Turlough museum". Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "Turlough Park, Turlough, County Mayo: Buildings of Ireland: National Inventory of Architectural Heritage". Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  4. ^ "Extra €2m funding for State cultural institutions". 5 December 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  5. ^ Bernie Byron (16 December 2006). "Davitt's Grandson visits special Davitt Exhibition". Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Cross of Cong to be transferred to Mayo". 24 March 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  7. ^ William Robert W. Wilde (1867). Lough Corrib, its shores and islands: with notices of Lough Mask. Dublin: McGlashan and Gill. p. 192. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  8. ^ Hall, Mr; Mrs. S. C. (1843). Ireland: Its Scenery, Character, &c. III. England: How and Parsons. p. 368. 
  9. ^ Edwin McGreal (5 April 2010). "Cross of Cong 'a symbol of what we can achieve'". Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Ken Sweeney (23 December 2011). "Photo collection reveals contrasting lives in Ireland's real Downton Abbeys". Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  11. ^ "Gold hoard thrown in skip displayed". 20 October 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2016.