The exhibitions in the museum have been designed to display and explore a history of Irish agricultural life from the turn of the 18th century until the middle of the 20th century. Staged over two floors and occupying 1,600 square metres, the galleries offer something for everyone and consist of the following:-
- Transport The transport exhibition traces the development of horse-drawn vehicles in Ireland and finishes with the quirky, bright yellow Renault R4 GTL.
- Harry Ferguson Tractor Display This display follows the development of the modern tractor and in particular the history of Harry Ferguson and the Ferguson System. It includes five tractors and a selection of Ferguson implements.
- Harvesting Machinery Hall Enjoy our diverse collection of harvesting machines including a rare ‘Silverman’ hay-cock elevator plus other large exhibits many of which have been recently restored by our gang of volunteers. Also learn about the lives of the traveller community with our beautiful caravan.
- The Garden Room Maintenance of lawns in large gardens and around stately homes was often done early in the 20th century by pony-drawn mowers. This exhibition charts the transition from small hand-pushed lawnmowers up to the electric hover mower.
- Power Driven Barn Machines A 100 years ago, power driven barn machines and line shafts were common place in creameries, factories and large farms before the introduction of electricity. This display includes barn threshers and oil engines among other objects.
- Sugar Beet Room The sugar beet industry was once a thriving and important part of rural life in Ireland for many years. This display shows how the beet was cultivated and harvested and reveals the highs and lows of this industry.
- Bicycle Display The bicycle display exhibits a variety of bicycles dating from 1885 – 1965. This room includes bicycles made by Pierce’s of Wexford who were primarily farm machinery manufacturers. They produced a bicycle which quickly failed due to price competition from abroad.
- The Great Famine The Great Famine is considered to have been the worst social disaster in 19th Century Europe. It has had a profound lasting effect on Irish history, culture and identity. This exhibition traces the economic, social and scientific aspects of the Famine and outlines its importance in Irish and European history.
- Village Crafts Exhibition Comprising of six large scale replicas of craft workshops such as the Blacksmith and the Basket maker. This exhibition highlights the crucial role and function of crafts people in the village community.
- Johnstown Castle Estate: A History This exhibition traces the origin and development of this magnificent estate from the 12th Century up until modern times. It highlights the most important people and events that have been a part of its fascinating history.
- Equestrian Room This room, which was originally the harness storage room, has been restored to reflect its original use. It displays an assortment of sporting and working horse harnesses.
- Estate Workers Explore the lives of some of the workers who served on the Estate with a series of evocative photographs.
- The Dairy Dairying is one of the timeless industries, producing the same product as it has done for thousands of years. This exhibition traces developments in dairying from hand milking to mechanical milking machines. Adjacent to this room we explore the traditional methods of butter-making.
- Poultry Keeping Up to recent times most farms kept a selection of hens, ducks, geese and guinea fowl. These provided an extra source of income for the household.
- Managing the Land Managing the Land consists of four sections: Ploughing, Sowing, Crop Protection and Harvesting. These displays tell the stories of the changes and technological advances in crop cultivation through 1860 to 1950. The ploughing exhibition includes displays on the three Wexford engineering firms – Pierce, Wexford Engineering (‘Star’) and Doyles as well as a history of the National Ploughing Championships.
- Country Furniture This exhibition showcases traditional rural furniture from a time when living conditions were cramped and families large. These designs were gradually replaced with the introduction of mass produced furniture. This is one of the largest displays of country furniture in Ireland and includes pieces such as settle beds, a hen coop dresser and sugan chairs.
- The James O’Keefe Furniture Room As you will see, Irish country furniture is generally functional in appearance. The only person known to produce highly ornamented rural furniture was James O’Keefe (1850-1923) – a local Wexford craftsman whose work is displayed. You can also view our colony of soprano pipistrelle bats from this room during the summer.
- Country Kitchens This exhibition traces the dramatic improvements in living conditions and the changing role of women in the domestic sphere; benefits resulting largely from the process of electrification. The exhibition comprises of three large-scale replica kitchens, which were typically in use in rural Ireland in 1800, 1900 and 1940-50s. These kitchen replicas are complimented by a vast and varied range of domestic household objects and early electrical appliances. The exhibition includes a 1950s washing machine which features in Fintan O’Toole’s ‘A History of Ireland in 100 Objects’ (click on following link to download the App relating to this initiative:- http://www.eu2013.ie/100objects/). You can also view our nesting swifts from this room during the summer.
Please note the museum is largely unheated so warm clothing is advisable when visiting during the winter months. We do however have a nice wood-burning stove in the tea-room where you can warm up and get some refreshments!