Folk 21: A Changing Collection of Cultural Heritage Objects - Visit North Mayo

Folk 21 is an exhibition to show off some of the cultural heritage objects in the Irish Folklife Collection of the National Museum of Ireland. These reflect our past and illustrate the beauty of the lives of our parents and grandparents, but also the hardship and poverty of life in Ireland. However, for many years the Collection was stored away in wooden crates.

The millennium year was a really important time for the Irish Folklife Collection of the National Museum of Ireland. Mayo County Council and the Office of Public Works worked with the National Museum to build the Museum Galleries and purpose-built Museum storage on the grounds of Turlough Park House. We moved the objects into our new Mayo home 21 years ago, creating the only branch of the National Museum of Ireland, outside of Dublin. On Sunday 9th September 2001 we officially opened the Museum Galleries, exhibiting the objects that reflect our past and have made us who we are as a nation today.

The Irish Folklife Collection of the National Museum of Ireland started in the 1920s as an ethnographical collection to reflect Irish material culture, to aid the understanding of our archaeological artefacts. This happened in tandem with the interest in collecting folklore (our oral heritage) and the establishment of the Irish Folklore Commission in 1935. The collection grew and as we embraced modernity and discarded the objects from the past, the Museum collection expanded. We illustrate the lives of ordinary people in Ireland and continue to collect objects that show the reality of living in Ireland today, such as the collecting of objects associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Objects For Each Season

Our museum storage is like an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures. As part of our birthday celebrations, Folk 21 will take out objects associated with each of the seasons. Starting with 1st February, St Brigid’s Day, we will put 21 St. Brigid’s Crosses on display, then replace these with 21 Butterprints for 1st May (Bealtaine), 21 Penal Crosses for 1st August (Lúnasa) and then 21 storage vessels to mark the start of winter, 1st November (Samhain).

The exhibition will run until December 2022.

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