Last Thurs we officially launched our display of dinky toy models collected by the late Maurice Bryan. Peter Miller, Chairman (pictured right) gave thanks to the Bryan family for their generosity in donating the collection as well as contributing to the making of new display cases. Tom Heavey Editor of ‘Irish Vintage Scene’ magazine was also in attendance (pictured 2nd left).
We were delighted today to host the official launch of the inaugural ‘Wexford County Flower & Garden Festival’ which takes place in early July. The festival coincides with the 50th anniversary of Co Wexford Garden & Flower Club.
Please note ‘Santa at the Castle’ is now fully booked and we have a waiting list. We wish everyone a very merry Christmas and look forward to welcoming you all to the museum in 2017.
We were very saddened to hear the recent death of Peter Nolan, one of weekly restoration volunteers. Peter was one of the first volunteers who joined us at the Irish agriculture Museum in early 2014, and was involved in many of our restoration projects over the last few years.
He was born in Tinnashrule near Ferns in County Wexford in 1942 and when he married Sadie (Nee Hiney) in 1967 he moved into Sadie’s home place in Rectory Road Enniscorthy. Sadie at this time was working for Whitfords garage which was at the bottom of Rectory Road. Peter was driving a lorry for Kelly’s of Kilpierce, and later drove a lorry for Lett’s of Enniscorthy delivering drinks to every pub between Wexford and Dublin.
In 1973 Peter set up his own light engineering business at the back of his house on Rectory Road, and along with Sadie, who looked after the books, they ran a very successful business until they retired in December 2010 after 37 years. Sadie had a triple bypass in 2011 but sadly everything did not go to plan and although she always showed a “brave face” they did not enjoy their retirement as they should have.
Peter was with us at the museum until early July this year, and in good form until a visit to hospital diagnosed that he had cancer. In mid-August while he was awaiting treatment, we headed off to the Dorset steam rally. Sadly on 24 August when we were in Dorset, Peter called me to tell me that Sadie had passed away suddenly that morning. He was only to survive her for two weeks, himself passing away on 7 September.
Peter was a very keen member of Ferns gun club, as well as a founder member of the Wexford Wicklow vintage group, and also a founder member and a board member of the Irish Vintage Society. His passion was vintage tractors, and restoring them, and supporting many tractor road runs in the Co. Wexford area, organising a road run at Monagear a few weeks before he was hospitalised, raising funds for Monagear national school and St John’s Hospital in Enniscorthy.
Peter and Sadie will be greatly missed by us all, and we would like to extend our sympathy to their daughter Colette, son-in-law Barry, and their two grandchildren Daniel and Sarah. It has been a very difficult time for all of us at the Museum but it is some consolation to us that every time we enter the new machinery Hall we can reflect on some of Peter’s handiwork.
Chairman I. A. M.
The museum has just acquired a 1915 Aveling & Porter 10 ton steam roller which has been in the one family since new. According to Chairman Peter Miller it represents “one of the best ‘barn finds’ of the century” as the roller has had very little use over its 101 year life on the Curraghmore estate in Co Waterford. He added, ‘Our plan is to clean it down as soon as possible, and put it on display in our new machinery hall, and also to have it checked out to see what is required to restore it to full working order. We believe it was last ‘steamed’ some 25 years ago.”
We are celebrating after being awarded accredited museum status. The Museum Standards Programme for Ireland, the first of its kind in the Republic, is administered by the Heritage Council and sets out to improve all aspects of Ireland’s museum practice. Museum experts from Britain and Northern Ireland travelled to Johnstown Castle last November to carry out an independent inspection of the museum.
In a letter to the museum Michael Starrett, the Chief Executive of the Heritage Council wrote, ‘This represents a great achievement for the team at the Irish Agricultural Museum. The Heritage Council acknowledges the hard work and perseverance of all involved in working to meet these 25 standards.’
Museum Manager Matt Wheeler, ‘We are delighted to achieve accreditation and receive this recognition from the Heritage Council. It was a significant challenge for us as we are a small team and we had to make many improvements in all aspects of the operation. We look forward to making further improvements over the coming years.’
The museum featured on RTE’s ‘Ear to the Ground’ programme last night. Chairman Peter Miller was on hand to show presenter Helen Carroll around the exhibitions with a focus on farming 100 years ago. Local historian Nicky Furlong also gave an insight into farming back then whilst being interviewed in the museum courtyard. Peter said, ‘It was a pleasure to show Helen around the museum and highlight some of the wonderful items in the collection.’
Staff at The Irish Agricultural Museum, Johnstown Castle are celebrating after winning a prestigious national award. The museum scooped the ‘Best Museum 2014’ prize at an awards ceremony last Wednesday organised by the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland.
Museum Chairman Peter Miller said, ‘This award is great recognition for the museum and all the hard work carried out by our staff, directors and volunteers. It is a real boost for tourism in Wexford’. Dr Austin O’Sullivan, who founded the museum in the 1970s said, ‘The museum has come a long way since I first started the collection all those years ago. We are now open year round and are fully accessible for all visitors as we recently installed a lift to the first floor. This year we will be further extending our opening hours with later summer opening planned from June to August.’
The museum recently received an unusual visitor. Staff were most surprised when male sparrowhawk decided to pay a visit. He had a good look round the ground floor before coming to rest on the bookcase in the shop. He was eventually persuaded to leave after it became clear that he wasn’t prepared to pay to have a look round all the exhibits!