I believe preserving the past for the future is a very important task, and today I’m delighted to introduce a rural heritage museum where Ireland’s past is treasured and shared.
Located just outside Bruff, County Limerick, Old Irish Ways is a folk heritage museum, where memorabilia from our past is lovingly restored and preserved.
Denis O’Connor, the founder of this wonderful museum started off with only a few precious pieces of vintage Irish treasures, but over the years he has gathered many more.
Today his collection of priceless keepsakes from Ireland’s past ranges into the thousands .
Denis’ goal is to recapture what life was like over 100 years ago, to give people a sense of how our forefathers lived. With items dating back as far as the 18th century, this exhibit truly spans the generations.
Here’s how Denis describes his museum on his website, Old Irish Ways ….
“Old Irish Ways is a collection of various artifacts and collectibles
which were used as part of everyday life
down through the years in an Ireland long past.
From the kitchen to the farmyard,
the collection built up by Denis over a number of years,
represents an Ireland of bygone days.”
Denis’ exhibits are for all of today’s generations to enjoy. Younger people see a collection of items from a bygone era, enlightening them about how diligently our forebears worked to survive.
But many of us will step through the doors of this amazing museum only to rekindle memories of days gone by.
Denis reports many visitors exclaim “I remember that” over and over again during a visit.
The Irish Cottage Kitchen:
The Irish cottage kitchen with a traditional open fire, for me, is an iconic symbol of my homeland. “Bean an tí” (pronounced ban-on-tee) or the woman of the house cared for the fire both day and night, those eternal flames vital for her labors and her rest.
The fire was not simply a means of heating the home, but the central hub of the household. Used for many tasks, the bean an tí baked breads, boiled bacon and root vegetables for her family, and simmered corn for animals. Sick animals were nursed in front of the fire.
My own granny used her hearth as a neonatal intensive care unit. When my uncle was born prematurely back in the 1930’s she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and hung him in a horse harness beside the fire to keep him warm. And he survived thanks to her ingenuity.
In the kitchen display at Old Irish Ways, Denis has recreated an old Irish family kitchen, including the dresser, an attractive yet functional piece of furniture. Decorative plates and china, cups, plates, coffeepots and jugs adorn the dresser.
At Old Irish Ways, papal pictures decorate the walls, together with the traditional Sacred Heart picture.
The Old Pub
Old Irish pubs were at the heart of Irish village life, many also incorporating a local shop.
Denis has gathered many commonly seen items from old pubs around the country and recreated his very own Irish pub where he now serves visitors a lovely cup of tea.
Here you will find vintage earthenware jars and beer bottles, an array of trays and bottle tops, water jugs and the famous Guinness timber barrel.
You can sit back on an old tractor seat high stool, sipping your tea and enjoying a chat, in this highly detailed Old Irish Bar.
Old Irish School:
School life in 20th century Ireland is recreated in the classroom exhibit. If you went to school in Ireland anytime upto the 1970’s, then the classroom at Old Irish Ways will bring back many memories.
Wooden desks stand beside the black board or chalk board as we say in America. The map of Ireland beckons on the wall and the desks are laid with old school books and workbooks.
The time spent in recreating this learning space from days gone by is clearly evident.
The Blacksmith’s Forge:
In days gone by the forge was a meeting place, where locals chatted and shared stories.
Politics of the day and the welfare of the local community often dominated the talk at an Irish Forge or “Smithy.” Plots and plans for rebellion were often forged at the forge.
A raised brick hearth or fireplace dominated the forge. Here, bars of iron were heated until yellow-hot. There was always a container of water to cool the iron. Heat permeated the air. The hammer hit the anvil and horses hooves were shod.
Typically the inside of the forge was very dark to allow the blacksmith see the variety of colors of the heated iron which indicated the temperature of the heated metal.
Denis shares all these stories and more in The Forge Exhibit.
The Irish Creamery is another highlight, with various implements used in the production and processing of milk and butter on display. You all know how much I love Irish churns.
Other displays in Old Irish Ways include a carpenter’s workshop, a typical old Irish hardware shop, a display of old farming implements, and turf cutting tools.
For the motoring enthusiast there is one of the largest displays of motor oil cans, advertising signs and associated memorabilia.
Visiting The Old Irish Ways Museum:
This award-winning museum represents a true and unique reflection of a forgotten Ireland.
So why not stop by if you find yourself in County Limerick and want to get off the well worn tourist track and visit a friendly welcoming museum full of vintage Irish treasures.
The museum is located about 16 miles or 25 kilometers outside Limerick city, and only 3 miles or 5 kilometers from the town of Bruff, the maternal ancestral home of President John F, Kennedy.
And remember, you can visit Lough Gur if the sun is shining.
Open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm, Denis recommends you give him a call before you visit, so that you can confirm a tour.
Here’s the contact information for Old Irish Ways.
Address: Caherguillamore, Bruff, Limerick
Email: [email protected]
A big thank you to Denis and his family for all their wonderful work in preserving this important piece of Irish rural history. They are to be commended for their dedication, and commitment to preserving Ireland’s past.
This is a private museum and a labor of love for Denis and his family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for kindling wonderful childhood memories. I really appreciate you giving me permission to share your lovely museum photos with my readers.
Next time I visit my family home in Kildorrery, County Cork, I’ll be sure to stop by for a chat and a cuppa tae in your Irish pub.
Blessings to you and yours from Kentucky.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)