Have you ever visited the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough, Castlebar, Mayo? I took my two kids for a visit last week, here’s what we did at the museum and what we all thought. Family Review The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life Mayo:
If you haven’t been before, then The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life Mayo is set in a lovely location, at Turlough, just outside Castlebar overlooking a small lake surrounded by trees and greenery. You can really take a breath of fresh air here.
I love that it’s in the West of Ireland as we can get it to it more easily than the Dublin museums, which we have to wait until school holidays to visit.
When we entered the Museum Galleries we were greeted with a very friendly smile which immediately brightened up our day. The member of staff explained where everything was and let the two kids know about the ‘Treasure Hunt’ activity sheet that they could do.
She spoke to the kids which was nice, sometimes everyone speaks through me which can be frustrating.
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So off we went to find the ‘Treasure Hunt’ sheet which was filled with pictures of items you could find in the museum. You had to identify what each item was and what animal was associated with it. It was perfect for kids of all ages and gave my 2 a focus and determination to see everything which was wonderful!
Beside the activity sheet stand was a dress up rail. The kids could try on some clothes from bygone days if they wanted and have a look at themselves in a cute kid sized mirror.
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Once we got down to Level -2, where most of the displays are, we began looking for all our Treasure Hunt items.
On this level it’s all about different aspects of country life from the schoolmaster to different trades and games children used to play to what kind of work women used to have to undertake on a daily basis.
The kids enjoyed trying to find the various treasures and it really got us looking at all the bits and pieces that were displayed. I could explain some of them as I come from a farming background and would have seen some of the items displayed as a child myself.
It was super interesting to see some short videos on how baskets were made and images from Halloween traditions that have been lost over time.
There was an interactive floor plan quiz so that you could see how house layouts used to be planned out – where the bed went etc. It went to show just how little people had.
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We found the loveliest little kids corner, full of books, puzzles and colouring books. It had a beautiful view and was really quiet. My little man made a beeline for it and sat and read the books for a short time while my daughter and I wandered around.
They also loved the Schoolmaster display, they could put on headphones and listen to a lesson from the olden days.
There wasn’t a workshop or event on for kids the day we visited but there are many planned throughout the year. You can book an event by calling the museum. All their event details are on their website. Most are free but you do need to pre book.
We will definitely be keeping an eye out for those.
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Outside the museum, you’ll find a gem of a playground which includes, what my two kiddos refer to as, an ‘Epic’ slide.
There is plenty of fun equipment for smallies and bigger kids in a beautiful natural setting, and ample benches for parents and others to sit and chat while the kids play.
There are also amazing sculptures in the grounds all around the museum. We took a long walk all around the grounds to see the various installations.
I have to say there is a really nice café on site at the museum. We were there about 11.30am and it was quiet enough. We had pancakes with syrup and cream, sausage roll and crips, two juiceboxes, tea and a tub of Pringles for just over €10.
The ladies were super friendly and the kids were delighted with it – very clean and bright with toilet and baby changing facilities.
I thought the range and choice of food from breakfast all the way through to lunchtime was really good, and they also have kids options.
Later that day I asked my two munchkins what they had enjoyed about the visit.
Grace, 9 – ‘I loved the playground and the café and the treasure hunt was fun’
Fionn 6, – ‘Playground, the Pringles and the reading corner, I liked that’
I loved being able to show them stuff that I remember from my grandparents’ farm house and that they could learn about how life was so different then. It was a lovely morning out and we will definitely be back.
Don’t forget to check the Museum’s Calendar of Events to see all the free, family friendly events taking place throughout the year.
Museum Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday & Monday 1pm – 5pm. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day