Wexford Local Development are delighted that a group we have supported for many years, the Irish Agricultural Museum, were recently awarded the prestigious title of ‘Best Museum 2014’ at an awards ceremony in Dublin organised by the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland.

The Irish Agricultural Museum is located on the beautiful grounds of Johnstown Castle, one of the most picturesque spots in Co. Wexford. Since 1973 the board of the Museum have developed one of the finest collections of agricultural machine and artefacts of rural life in Ireland.

Dr Austin O’Sullivan (Museum founder) and Peter Miller (Chairman) pictured receiving the award from Mary McMahon Past President of IHAI
Dr Austin O’Sullivan (Museum founder) and Peter Miller (Chairman) pictured receiving the award from Mary McMahon Past President of IHAI

Wexford Local Development have had a strong working relationship with the Irish Agricultural Museum for many years and have supported a number of their initiatives under the LEADER programme. Our most recent involvement with the Irish Agricultural Museum saw us offer a grant of over €100,000 under the LEADER programme for a major redevelopment including installing a lift in the original museum building so that the exhibitions on the upper floor are now accessible to the less mobile and building a large extension onto the museum. This new extension, known as the Harvesting Machinery Hall, now houses some of the museum’s collection of vintage agricultural machinery as well as offering a workshop space for machine restoration. These new facilities were officially opened last September and have made a significant contribution to the Irish Agricultural Museum since then.

Awarding the title of ‘Best Museum’ to the Irish Agricultural Museum was a recognition of the important contribution the staff and board of the Museum have made to the promotion and preservation of Ireland’s rural heritage. The award also recognises the efforts made by the Museum to constantly improve its public appeal by undertaking developments such as the recent construction of the Harvesting Machinery Hall which was funded by Wexford Local Development.

Speaking at the Awards Ceremony Mary McMahon, Past President of the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland, paid a glowing tribute to the museum and its pioneering role in preserving the heritage of rural Ireland for over 30 years. She said that “Since its early days the museum has greatly enlarged and occupies around 1,600 square metres of gallery space. The most recent addition was made in 2014 when the Harvesting Machinery Hall was opened.” She also praised the museum’s staff and, in particular, their educational work in developing the collection as a resource for schools and families visiting with children.

The Irish Agricultural Museum and the Johnstown Castle grounds are a great destination for anyone interested in rural Irish life. Wexford Local Development look forward to continuing our support for the important work of the Irish Agricultural Museum for many years to come. Further information about the Irish Agricultural Museum can be found at their website.