The Museum of Old Irish Ways isn’t quite what you might imagine. You won’t find any golden torcs there. No bog bodies. No leprechauns. No John McCormack.
What you will find is a collection of artifacts from the fifties, the sixties and some from earlier decades, that evoke an Ireland now slipping into memory. An Ireland where nobody had a tv and few had a radio. Where nobody had a mobile phone and only the well off had a landline. An Ireland where people worked hard to earn a crust. Anvils, bellows, blow-lamps, tobacco cutters, apple peelers, tractors, phone boxes, petrol pumps. An entire classroom, where you can inspect actual copy books. I wonder where Tom Hayes is now? Leaving Certificate, 1946, Honours Mathematics. Turn the pages: the binomial theorem. Newton’s Method. Trigonometry, integral calculus. Tom would be about 85 now, an old rural-looking man, and so our stereotypes are blown to pieces.
There’s a complete pub. A pub with no beer, as the owner Blacky Connors confesses when I challenge him.
What? No drink?
No drink, he says, though I was pretty good at leaning on a counter in my day.
These days, he’s turned his obsessional tendencies in a different direction, building an amazing museum of the mundane, of the things we took for granted in previous decades, and it’s not uniquely Irish either, which is nice. Most of the branded products would be well-known to our British neighbours who lived a very similar life to ours in the old days. Indeed, many of these products came from Britain, including the apple peeler from S Nye and CO of London, a mightily impressive implement and far more impressive than the spindly little gadget I bought last week.
BP. Esso. Maxol. Castrol.
Rinso. Cow & Gate. Cadburys.
Block-planes, blow-lamps, grease guns like my own father had. Paraffin heaters.
Handmade tools like the blacksmith’s tongs, fashioned from old files and rasps. Bellows. Hammers.
No waste in the old Ireland. It was a world of recycling.
I’m astonished by this wonderful museum built by one man out of his own resources because he simply thinks he should.
Support him. Donate things you have lying around. Send him a few bob. Help this man to do a wonderful service to our recent social history without a single penny of government support, simply because he thinks it’s a good thing to do, and because he’s a little bit obsessional about such matters.
Here’s his website: Museum of Old Irish Ways.
And here’s his Facebook page.