Are you looking for free things to do in Mayo? Young and old alike will enjoy the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Castlebar, Co Mayo. There is plenty of activities to keep little minds active and engaged in the spacious and modern galleries and lots to explore in the gardens too. Here are 10 unusual and awesome activities to discover on your visit to the NMI Country Life all free of charge.
This extensive and impressive museum site explores traditional ways of life in Ireland and is spectacularly located in the grounds of an historic country house and Green Flag award-winning gardens.
#1. Step Back in Time
Explore Ireland’s National Folklife Collection to see how people lived in rural Ireland over 100 years ago.
Learn about age-old crafts, see the blacksmith’s forge, old farm equipment and what a typical Irish home would have looked like in the 19th century.
A fun and engaging mix of objects, interactive displays, images and films bring the Collection to life.
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#2. Complete Activity Sheets and Trails
There is a range of free activity sheets and museum trails available from reception. One trail challenges children (and grown-ups!) to find Paedar the Pygmy Shrew who is hiding at various locations in the galleries.
This a great way for children to explore the extensive displays and learn about Ireland’s smallest mammal too. Collect activity sheets, clipboards and pencils at the Family Station or from the museum reception.
#3. Play Games from Yesteryear
Borrow a Games Box from the museum reception to see how children played in times gone by. Try your hand at traditional games such as Queenie-I-O, Five Slates and Donkey, which are great fun and free too.
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#4. Discover a New Old You!
What would you have worn in the 1800s? Find out at the children’s dress-up station, which includes hats and outfits from times gone by. Don’t forget to get some selfies to show all your friends when you get home!
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#5. Get Up Close to History
Get up close to history at the Discovery Station. Handle a selection of objects and see if you can figure out how our ancestors used them.
Keep an eye out too for the green ‘Please Touch’ signs at some displays in the galleries.
#6. Become a Woodland Explorer
Head outdoors and go exploring in the woods. Can you identify the trees? There are several different species. See if you can identify the oldest tree in Turlough Park.
#7. Get on Your Bike!
Combine a visit to the museum with a Greenway day out for all of the family. The 10km Museum Greenway is classed as ‘easy to moderate’ and links Lough Lannagh in Castlebar with the grounds of Turlough Park.
Bicycle parking facilities are available at the museum and bicycle hire is available in Castlebar.
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#8. Visit the Willow House
Visit Willow House in the woods. This is an impressive beehive shaped structure woven from natural materials, using age-old techniques. Keep an eye out also for the ‘bug hotel’ next door.
#9. Go Wild in the Adventure Playground
Opened in 2018, the natural woodland playground is scenically located and a great place to blast off some energy. Have fun on the swings, slide, playhouses, monkey bars and natural stone climbing steps.
#10. Enjoy Sweet Treats
Visit Brambles café in the courtyard for a sweet treat to round off your day. The café serves lunches, hot and cold snacks, a range of homemade desserts and speciality teas and coffees. The children’s hot chocolate is available throughout the summer months for just €1.
We hope this has inspired you to visit The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life which is open 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and 2pm to 5pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays (including Bank Holidays). Admission and parking are free.
Over to you now. What was your favourite activity at the Country Life Museum? Please let us know in the comments box below.