IMA Annual Conference

2024 Irish Museums Association Annual Conference

Beyond Boundaries: The future for regional museums

23 + 24 May 2024

  • Speakers - Thursday 23 May 2024

    (Speakers, day one - per running order) 

    Fiona Candlin is Professor of Museology and Director of the Mapping Museums Lab at Birkbeck, University of London. She is the author of Stories From Small Museums (2022), an oral history of the late twentieth century UK museums boom, and Micromuseology: An analysis of small independent museums (2016), among many other publications. Candlin is currently analysing data on museum closure and working on a new book provisionally titled Dead Zebras and Closed Museums.

    John Shortall has worked for Carlow County Council for over 21 years and was appointed County Librarian in 2019. John has responsibility for the management and development of the County Library Service and works closely with the Culture Team which includes the County Museum, Arts Office and Heritage Office.

    Dr John Reynolds joined An Garda Síochána in 1986 and recently retired after 38 years’ service. He founded and ran a museum in the Garda College on a voluntary basis from 2001 to 2020. John has a PhD in history from the University of Limerick and is the author of two books and numerous articles on policing & military history. John was resident historian for the Garda centenary which took place in 2022 and set up temporary exhibitions throughout Ireland using a ‘portable museum’ model. He also initiated and developed John received an ‘Excellence’ award from the Association of Garda Sergeants & Inspectors in 2023 for his work in promoting and raising awareness of Irish policing history and heritage. 

    Rosemary Ryan worked as a teacher and on Irish Arts Review and has worked with Waterford City & County Council and Waterford Treasures since 1997. Working in museums combines her twin passions of historic human-made objects and learning. She has wide experience of all aspects of museum work having worked as Education Officer and in documentation, establishing the documentation system in Waterford Treasures via the Heritage Council’s Museum Standards Programme for Ireland. Rosemary was appointed Curator Manager (Acting) of Waterford Treasures in June 2023, which currently offers six heritage experiences as well as a guided walking tour.

    Úna Hussey is the project manager in the Hunt Museum, Limerick, of a pivotal work package for the Horizon Europe funded RECHARGE project. This RECHARGE work package is testing participatory business models in ‘Living Labs’ to learn about diversifying funding streams for the cultural heritage sector. Úna has worked in the education area tying collection objects from multiple cultural heritage institutions to educational resources. She previously worked as a project manager in both healthcare and not-for-profit sectors and has an MA in Fashion and the Environment from the London College of Fashion.

    Donna Gilligan is Principal of Scéal Heritage Consultancy. She holds Masters degrees in Archaeology, Museum Practice and Management, and Design History and Material Culture, and has worked for over seventeen years in varied roles in the Irish museum and heritage sector. She is a museum curator and archaeologist, cultural project manager, material culture historian, and heritage educator. Her work has centred around museum collections management, exhibition interpretation and curation, community and public engagement and education, and heritage project facilitation. Donna has worked with the North Leitrim Women’s Centre as the Project Curator on the “Leitrim Women Through Time” community heritage project since 2022.

    Eamonn McEneany recently retired as Director of Waterford Museum of Treasures. Throughout his career, Eamonn initiated the Viking Triangle Project in Waterford which saw a museum quarter being established in the City featuring Reginald’s Tower, Bishop’s Palace, The Medieval Museum, The Museum of Time, Museum of Irish Silver and the Museum of Irish Wake, along with the King of the Vikings VR experience.

    Daniel Breen joined Cork Public Museum in 2002 and was officially appointed Curator in 2019. Daniel has a BA in History and Archaeology from UCC (2001), an MA in European Historical Archaeology from the University of Sheffield (2002) and an MA in Museum Studies from UCC (2015). He has co-authored several books and given many public lectures on Cork’s past. Daniel has spent the last two decades managing, researching and enabling public access to over 7000 years of Cork’s amazing material heritage through curated onsite or online exhibitions, events and research facilities.  

    Judith McCarthy has been the Curator of Donegal County Museum since 1994, where, along with promoting and preserving the history and heritage of Donegal, she has developed successful partnerships with community groups, museums, and organisations locally, nationally and internationally to enable this work. Judith obtained a BA (Hons) in Ancient History/Archaeology and History from Trinity College and a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Administration from UCD.

    Marie McMahon is the curator and manager of Tipperary County Council’s Museum Service, leading the redesign of the Museum in 2019. She oversees the day-to-day running of the museum while maintaining MSPI accreditation, and devises programming, collections-based projects, and annually coordinates a Medieval Festival for Clonmel. She has a degree in Fashion Design and Art History, Certificates in Tourism Business Practice, Facilitation and Developmental Community Arts, and was employed as an ETB Design Tutor before joining the Craft Granary and Design Studio as Manager. Marie is a board member of the Irish Museums Trust and the Irish Museums Association, and is Chair of the Local Authority Museum Network (LAMN).

    Helen O’Carroll is Curator of Kerry County Museum since 2000.  A graduate of University College Dublin, she holds an MA in History (1990) and a Diploma in Arts Administration (1991). She has been involved in heritage projects in Kerry for over thirty years and has produced several large-scale, award-winning exhibitions, among them ‘Casement in Kerry: A Revolutionary Journey’, which was officially opened by President Michael D Higgins on 21 April 2016.


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  • Speakers - Friday 24 May 2024

    (Speakers, day two - per running order)

    Dermot Mulligan is Museum Curator of Carlow County Museum since 2002. He coordinated the development of the new Carlow County Museum premises on College Street, Carlow Town, Ireland’s newest County Museum which opened in April 2012. In 2003, Dermot was ‘designated’ by the National Museum of Ireland to collect archaeological objects on its behalf for county Carlow. He was co-coordinator of the award winning ‘Carlow Trails of the Saints’ project first launched in 2010. For twelve years (2004 – 2016) he coordinated Heritage Week in County Carlow. Dermot was the “Ireland 2016 County Coordinator” for County Carlow, the only Museum Curator appointed as a County Coordinator. He coordinates the international multi agency project “Rediscovering St. Willibrord, Patron Saint of Luxembourg and his County Carlow Connection”. Dermot has been secretary to the Local Authority Museums’ Network (LAMN) and secretary of the Designated Museums Committee. 

    Liam Bradley has been Curator of Monaghan County Museum for over twenty years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Archaeology and Palaeoecology from Queens University and a Masters degree in Museum Practice and Management from the University of Ulster. Liam is the former Chair of the Local Authority Museums Network (LAMN), which is the representative body for the twelve local authority museums in the state. He also sits on the board of ICOM Ireland and is a member of the assessor panel for the Museums Standards Programme for Ireland.

    Dr Elizabeth Crooke is Professor of Heritage and Museum Studies at the School of Arts and Humanities, Ulster University. She has published extensively on museums and heritage in Northern Ireland and Ireland and on museums, communities, and divided societies. She has been Chair of the Northern Ireland Museums Council Board, has served on the Board of Directors of the Irish Museums Association and is part of the Heritage Council’s Museum Standards Programme Advisory Committee. Recent projects include the AHRC-funded First World War Engagement Centre Living Legacies (2014-2019) and UKRI-funded ‘Museums, Crisis and Covid-19: Vitality and Vulnerabilities’.

    Dr Siobhán Doyle is Curator of Glass, Ceramics and Asian Collections in the National Museum of Ireland (NMI). She holds a PhD in Museum Studies from Technological University Dublin and publishes widely on history, sport and culture. Siobhán first book, A History of the GAA in 100 Objects, was published by Merrion Press in 2022 and was nominated for Sports Book of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards. It has since been developed in a multi-media exhibition in NMI Collins Barracks – GAA: People, Objects and Stories.

    Dr Anthony Haughey lectures on the BA Photography and is a PhD supervisor in the Centre for Socially Engaged Practice-Based Research (SEPR), a research centre within the School of Media. In addition to teaching, Anthony is a socially-engaged artist, photographer and filmmaker whose artworks have been exhibited, collected, and published nationally and internationally. Anthony was a Senior Research Fellow (2005-8) at the Interface Centre for Research in Art, Technologies and Design in Belfast School of Art, where he completed a PhD in 2009. He is a member of the editorial board for the Routledge Journal, 'Photographies' and is chairperson of Fire Station Artist Studios. Anthony recently completed his term as Decade of Centenaries Artist-In-Residence at the National Museum of Ireland.

    Agrippa Njanina is assistant curator at National Museums NI. Agrippa has more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit, education and community sectors, specialising in ethics and community engagement. Before becoming Assistant Curator, Agippa was Community Engagement Officer on the Global Voices Local Choices project at National Museums N.I, He played a vital role in coordinating and facilitating the program across six museums in Northern Ireland. Their work focused on promoting inclusivity and diversity and empowering marginalized communities, ensuring their voices are represented. As a committed advocate for inclusive practices within the museum, ethical decision-making processes and decolonization. Agrippa is a committee member of the UK Museums Association Ethics committee.

    Danielle O’Donovan is a Museum and Heritage consultant. She is the former Project/Programme Manager for PortsPast and Present, an interregional research project at University College Cork, and, until 2021, was Acting Director and Programme Manager at Nano Nagle Place in Cork City. Danielle has worked in museums for over a decade, most of which has been spent working in the independent museum sector. She previously taught architectural history at university level, where she developed learning experiences in the historic built environment. This passion for learning, coupled with an interest in technology-mediated learning, brought her to post doctoral work in Trinity, developing eLearning and digital humanities projects for the Irish Heritage Trust.

    Clodagh Doyle is Keeper, Irish Folklife Division, National Museum of Ireland. She has been working with this Collection, now based at Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, since 1995. She has a degree in Irish Folklore and Archaeology and her MA thesis is on the subject of Traditional Hearth Furniture. She worked in the National Museum of Ireland’s Dublin sites and on the inaugural exhibitions at the NMI – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin. She has held responsibility for the Calendar Customs, Religion, Sport & Leisure, Childhood, Textiles, Ceramics & Glass Collections. She played a pivotal role in the inception, development and installation of the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life and the move of the Irish Folklife Collection to its new store and galleries in Co. Mayo in 2001.

    Grace Mulqueen is Curator of Knock Museum since 1992. Knock Museum was the first museum in the West of Ireland to achieve Full Accreditation in the MSPI in 2009 and the museum has since achieved Maintenane of Accreditation in 2013, 2018 and hopefully again this year! She has overseen the redevelopment of the museum and a complete re-interpretation of the collection and exhibitions. Under her stewardship, the museum prides itself on an impressive programme of temporary exhibitions and education activities. Grace has a keen interest in preserving intangible heritage and the museum is very active in collecting memories and stories of faith and devotion.

    Emma Lucy O’Brien has been CEO & Artistic Director at VISUAL Carlow since December 2019. Emma’s practice is contextually driven, focusing primarily on the social and pedagogical potential of art and creative space. She likes to connect people and has supported artists to make work, with and for local, national and international audiences. She has overseen the commissioning, programming and installation of major group and solo shows, learning and engagement programmes. Emma has a degree in Art History and English from University College Cork and holds an MA in Art in The Contemporary World from The National College of Art and Design Dublin.

    Tina O’Dwyer is Founder and CEO of The Tourism Space. Tina has been at the forefront of sustainable and regenerative approaches to tourism development in Ireland for nearly 15 years. Her award-winning work with the Burren Ecotourism Network and the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark 2011-2018, saw her emerge as a pragmatic and motivational change-maker in the field. She went on to set up The Tourism Space, a platform for inspiring leadership and change in tourism. The Tourism Space partners with public sector agencies, industry governing bodies and other development groups in Ireland and the UK, facilitating and co-creating bespoke solutions that are regenerative, collaborative and place-centred. Tina is a Regenerative Tourism Communicator, Certified and Credentialed Coach, Strategic Facilitator, Event MC, Keynote Speaker, Webinar Host, and Trainer.

    Gillian O'Brien is Professor of Public History at the Liverpool John Moores University. Gillian is the author of 'The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland's Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion' (2020) and "Blood Runs Green: The Murder that Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago" (2015), and co-editor of 'Georgian Dublin' and 'Portraits of the City: Dublin and the Wider World'. She is also involved in a number of public history projects and has been the historical advisor for museum and heritage scheme including the development of Spike Island in Co. Cork, Ireland and work on Kilmainham Gaol and Courthouse in Co. Dublin and Nano Nagle Place in Cork city. As part of her work on museums and heritage centres, she has published 'Inception, Development, Operation: A Report on Best Practice for Site-Specific Museums and Heritage Centres' (2018) and 'Beyond Storytelling: Exhibiting the Past (2020). She is a member of the board of directors of the Irish Museums Association.

    Lar Joye is Port Heritage Director at Dublin Port since 2017, responsible for the 300 year old Port Archive and the Port City Integration. He is a former curator at the National Museum of Ireland, and played a key role in the Decade of Commemorations 2012-2107. He worked closely with An Post in the creation of the GPO Witness History museum and was historical adviser for An Posts 2016 commemorative stamps. Lar  is a graduate of University College Dublin, Leicester University and the Getty Leadership Institute and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust and previously was chairman of the Irish National Committee of the Blue Shield. Lar has served on the Irish Museums Association’s board of directors since 2015 and was elected IMA Chair in October 2023.

    Lisa Shortall is Head of Research, Learning and Cultural Heritage at the Heritage Council. For over 20 years she worked as a professionally qualified archivist in the university, local authority, and community archive sectors. Her academic background is in Folklore, Irish, and Archives, and prior to joining the Heritage Council, she lectured on the MA in Archives and Records Management programme for the academic year 2022/2023. Lisa’s work in the Heritage Council is wide ranging, encompassing research into all aspects of the heritage sector, and overseeing cultural heritage programming such as the Conservation Internship Programme, the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI) and, in partnership with the National Museum of Ireland, the Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN). Lisa also works closely with the third-level sector to progress initiatives to increase access to and care of privately owned heritage, access to cultural heritage via digital       humanities projects, and core heritage research.

    Stella Byrne has worked with The National Lottery Heritage Fund since 1999 where she is the Head of Investment overseeing all funding activity in Northern Ireland.  Over the last 30 years, she has been involved in a variety of heritage projects and partnerships working with communities, local government and NGOs across NI and beyond. She has a particular interest in museums and is a board member of the UK's Museums Association where she chairs the Nations and Governance Committees. She is a former board member of the NI Community Relations Council and Chair of its Audit Committee. Stella was instrumental in the establishment of the partnership between Heritage Fund and CRC that led to the Decade of Centenaries Roundtable and associated programme of events, resources, activities and policy development. This included the Principles for Remembering which continue to support civic and community organisations to navigate how the past is remembered.


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  • Session Abstracts, Thursday 23 May 2024

    (Session abstracts, day one - per running order)


    The UK Museums Boom

    The number of museums in the UK has more than tripled since 1960. In this presentation, Fiona will explain what kinds of museums those were, who founded them, and why.

    Fiona Candlin, Professor of Museology, School of Historical Studies, Birbeck University of London. 


    A Museum for the County: the County Council leading the Way. 

    Just over 50 years ago, in December 1973, the Carlow Historical & Archaeological Society established Carlow County Museum. In 2002 the operations of the Museum were taken over by Carlow County Council. With no obligation on a local authority to operate a county museum why did Carlow County Council decide to take on such a responsibility? What benefits have accrued over the last twenty-two years from this decision? In the late 1990s and early 2000’s Carlow County Council was pursuing a strategy for the social, economic and cultural development of County Carlow. An important part of that strategy was to lay the foundations for our now thriving county arts and heritage services. The County Museum was identified as an important component of the town’s Cultural Quarter. The Museum, very much retaining its community museum roots, has developed as an institution in its own right that sits comfortably among the traditional council function areas. To maintain and develop its audience the Museum engages in a variety of outreach and education activities throughout the county. It regularly partners with the Council’s Cultural Team, including the County Library which like local authority library services are more and more providing cultural services, along with community and professional bodies both locally, nationally and internationally. As Cllr Andrea Dalton, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council and Member of the Board of Carlow County Museum, states ‘Over the past fifty years, the Museum has stood as a testament to the rich tapestry of history and heritage woven into the fabric of County Carlow. It is a guardian of our past, a repository of stories, artefacts and memories that collectively tell the tale of Carlow.’

    John Shortall, County Librarian, Carlow Library Services, Carlow County Council.


    A splendid Barracks’ - The Garda College Visitor Centre and Museum  

    Organised policing in Ireland first began in the late 18th century, and since then the crime and policing history of the country has entwined with its social, cultural, political and revolutionary history. Having set up and ran a Visitor Centre and Museum in the Garda College for over 20 years, I will describe how this small local museum acted as an ambassador for An Garda Síochána, not only for external visitors but also for new trainees. The museum dealt with the foundation and turbulent first years of the Civic Guard and how the organisation has evolved over the years, while preserving the unarmed and community-based ethos first set out in 1922 by Michael Collins. From the recruitment of the first female members in 1959 to the diversity of today with over 20 nationalities now serving as Gardaí, the Garda College Museum in cooperation with the Garda Museum in Dublin Castle raised awareness about the unique role of policing in Irish society. As Garda centenary coordinator in 2022 I facilitated a new historic photo archive, temporary exhibitions and a ‘portable museum’, bringing artefacts and information to a national audience in cooperation with local museums and external agencies. Many colonial police forces were founded by Irishmen or had senior officers who had been in the RIC or other Irish police forces, and some overseas visitors come to Ireland specifically because of those connections. That shared history & heritage creates unique opportunities to form relationships with people and organisations internationally. 

    Dr. John Reynolds, Founder and former Curator, Garda College Museum.


    Regenerating through culture and heritage. 

    Waterford City & County Council has undertaken a remarkable regeneration of the historic core of Waterford City using its Museums as the driver.

    Waterford Treasures Museums opened in 1999, displaying the fine municipal treasures of Ireland’s oldest city, including the Great Charter Roll, the largest Irish collection of Medieval royal charters, the sword gifted by King Edward IV and the sword and cap of maintenance gifted by King Henry VIII in 1536, allied to the cream of the objects found in city centre archaeological excavations and important objects loaned by the churches - most notably the 15th century Christ Church Cathedral cloth-of-gold vestments.  From 2010 the Museum spearheaded the regeneration of the Viking Triangle, opening the award-winning Medieval Museum and the Bishop’s Palace. With the support of Waterford City & County Council, Failte Ireland and other grant-aiding bodies and private philanthropy it has since 2017 added the King of the Vikings Virtual Reality Adventure, the Irish Museum of Time (only horological museum on the island of Ireland), the Irish Silver Museum, and the Irish Wake Museum, it additionally curates the Reginald’s Tower exhibition.

    Attracting 100,000 paying visitors annually, tourists, nationals and locals, Waterford Treasures Museum is a focus of pride for the citizens with busy after-dark programmes and activities, a Friends scheme, all for learning and public enjoyment.

    Rosemary Ryan, Acting Curator/Manager, Waterford Treasures. 


    Innovative Approaches: Testing Participatory Cultural Business Models for Sustainable Funding in Cultural Heritage Institutions

    In today's challenging financial landscape for cultural heritage institutions, finding new ways to secure funding is crucial. This presentation introduces participatory cultural business models as a solution to diversify revenue streams for museums and cultural organizations. Drawing from real life examples, this presentation showcases how regional cultural institutions have experimented with actively recognizing and embracing the strength of local communities, engaging them to become active stakeholders. In doing so, institutions can foster a sense of ownership and local pride in their heritage, empowering community members with a newfound sense of ownership and  pride in their local cultural heritage.

    This presentation delves into the tangible economic benefits of implementing participatory business models within the cultural sector. It will do this by giving concrete examples of how a number of these innovative models are being currently tested by regional museums and cultural heritage  institutions in Ireland and across Europe as part of the Horizon Europe funded RECHARGE project. In particular, it will spotlight the "CSR CULTURAL HERITAGE COMMUNITY MODEL" from the RECHARGE project, highlighting its implementation in institutions like The Hunt Museum in Limerick and a further spotlight on the “COLLABORATIVE E-COMMERCE MODEL”, in the process of testing by the Textile museum of Prato, Italy. Attendees will also receive practical strategies for implementing these models, along with insights into their benefits and challenges.

    Finally, the presentation explores the implications for participatory models to inform national cultural policy in the cultural sector. Attendees will gain a real-time insight into how these models can drive impact and sustainability in the evolving cultural landscape.

    Úna Hussey, RECHARGE Project Manager, The Hunt Museum.


    Mobilising Rural Women’s History: The Pop-up Leitrim Women’s Museum

    "Leitrim Women Through Time" is a collaborative community heritage project which focuses on the lives of ordinary Leitrim woman in the recent and distant past. The project, run jointly by the North Leitrim Women’s Centre and Scéal Heritage Consultancy since 2022, highlights the neglect and absence of the stories of everyday rural women from our historical records. Leitrim has no county museum and very few public heritage spaces, and rural women’s history has not been represented in any focused way in the region.

    In 2023, the project created Leitrim's first Pop-up Women’s Museum, which mobilised and promoted the histories and experiences of rural women from the county for a broad and inclusive public audience. This temporary museum of women’s history included the display of a travelling museum exhibition accompanied by an exposition of material culture from rural women’s history - with examples from women’s work inside and outside the home, women’s craft, and women’s personal lives. The Museum, which travelled the county throughout 2023, aimed to encourage people to share stories and memories of ordinary rural women for preservation in the project archive, and to demonstrate the value in recording these often-overlooked voices and experiences.

    Visitors were encouraged to bring along their own photographs, documents, and objects linked to local women’s history to be recorded by the project, which were scanned and photographed for addition to the project archive. The Museum also offered people the opportunity to temporarily display their own pieces of family history. The initiative offered a unique and welcoming platform to learn about rural women’s history; encouraging discussion, engagement, and memory-sharing amongst those who visited the Museum.

    Donna Gilligan, Principal, Scéal Heritage Consultancy.


    Future proofing local government museums

    Local authorities throughout Ireland play a vital and proactive role in promoting and preserving culture and heritage, ensuring the best possible quality of life for their communities.  Through their museum services they strengthen local communities by underpinning local identity and sense of place and, as a result, they contribute to the development of sustainable economic activity in their areas. Local authority museums work in partnership with services across the wider local authorities, as well as with other organisations and institutions in their respective regions, with government departments and, of course, with communities themselves.

    The panel will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing local authority museums and the relationship between local, regional and national museums. The questions posed will explore a myriad of solutions for Local Authority Museums in these challenging times.

    Panel chaired by Eamonn McEneaney, former Director, Waterford Treasures with panellists Dan Breen, Curator, Cork County Museum; Judith McCarthy, Curator, Donegal County Museum; Marie McMahon, Curator, Tipperary Museum of Hidden Treasures; and Helen O’Carroll, Curator, Kerry County Museum.


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  • Session Abstracts, Friday 24 May 2024

    (Session abstracts, day two - per running order)


    Breaking Borders: Saints Alive as Carlow Hops to Luxembourg!

    St Willibrord, Patron Saint of Luxembourg and the First Apostle of the Netherlands, is one of the most important Saints in Europe, particularly in the early medieval period immediately after the traumatic fallout from the collapse of the Roman Empire. Great devotions are still held in his honour, particularly an annual UNESCO World Heritage Status ‘hopping procession’ in Echternach, Luxembourg. St Willibrord spent twelve years in Co. Carlow being trained as a monk with the intention of being part of a mission to the continent. Over time his Carlow connection had been practically forgotten, but Carlow County Council, through Carlow County Museum, utilising the research of Emeritus Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Department of History, NUI Galway, has re-established this link. The Museum coordinates an international multi-agency project to rediscover this Anglo-Saxon Saint and his enormous European legacy. Over the last twenty-four years much has happened in both Co. Carlow and Echternach to highlight this connection from state visits, exhibitions, conservation works, research, publications, lectures and in 2017 sixty Carlovians becoming the first known Irish group to partake in the centuries old Hopping Procession. Scholars state that there are few individuals whose career illustrates the cultural diplomacy, religious and political ties which existed between Ireland, Britain and the continent in the early Middle Ages as much as Willibrord's.

    Dermot Mulligan, Curator, Carlow County Museum. 


    Bordering Realities – Monaghan People and Stories

    When the idea that eventually became the Peace Campus in Monaghan Town was first muted, it was in the context of the Museum holding a collection which reflected a story of the county whose time had come. The collection spanned the experience in this border region and had been meticulously accumulated over the 50 years of the museum’s existence.

    As we marked the various centenaries in the county, a recuring theme pervaded every story. That of a society which was once much more cohesive and had splintered over the last century. Two communities, two identities, which was reflected in many towns in the county by two meeting halls, two butchers, two bakeries, two worlds. Over the last five years we have worked to develop the story which became Bordering Realities -Monaghan People and Stories. This major new exhibition which will launch Monaghan County Museum at our new home in the Peace Campus explores the idea of borders in our lives.

    We are working with our cross-border partners in the Ulster Scots Agency and within our new exhibition will be a dedicated exhibition space to the story of the Ulster Scots. This journey of sharing cultural ideas and identities has also crossed the ocean to America where we have linked in with organsations representing the Ulster Scots or Scots Irish story in the US.

    Slowly, over the generations, a story of lines has become rooted in the bedrock of our community. These lines can be seen as good or bad. They exist though because we give them power. Monaghan County Museum, in our new home, seeks to act as a catalyst for discussion and debate about this integral part of identity. We invite everyone to put their foot on the line and explore the question: Do our borders define us or do we define our borders?

    Liam Bradley, Curator/Manager, Monaghan County Museum. 


    Shaping National Identity. 

    This session will look at regional cultural identity in Ireland, what defines and shapes this, and how it, in turn, this shapes our collective voice. 

    Panel discussion chaired by Elizabeth Crooke, Professor of Heritage and Museum Studies, Ulster University, with panellists Dr Siobhan Doyle, Curator, National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History; Dr Anthony Haughey, Artist; and Agrippa Njanina, Assistant Curator of Inclusive Global Histories, National Museums NI.


    Striking the Balance: At the intersection of regional and national.

    Balancing regional and national interests within museums is a multifaceted endeavor, requiring thoughtful collaborations and adaptability. This session will explore the different strengths and challenges that museums face as they fulfill a national remit, while also nurturing close regional relationships. 

    Panel discussion chaired by Dr Danielle O’Donovan, Museum and Heritage Consultant with panellists Clodagh Doyle, Keeper, National Museum of Ireland Folklife Division; Grace Mulqueen, Knock Museum; and Emma Lucy O’Brien, CEO & Artistic Director, VISUAL Centre of Contemporary Art & The George Bernard Shaw Theatre.


    Powerful Questions for a Regenerative Tourism Future.

    Tina will delve into the mindset that has shaped tourism for over 70 years. The talk will inspire curiosity about the assumptions that underly our traditional tourism model. Tina poses powerful questions about the future of tourism, urging us all to consider if we're brave enough to embrace change. It’s not about less. It about tourism delivering more – more value to places, more value to communities, more value to hosts, and ultimately more value to visitors. 

    Tina O’Dwyer, Managing Director, The Tourism Space.


    Building a Cohesive Museum Landscape. 

    As we aim for a more fully integrated museum sector, what are the consequences of the absence of cultural markers and provisions in regional environments? This panel will explore some of the various policies and supports that are necessary to strengthen partnerships between national, regional, and local museums and what extra supports could help smaller-scale museums engage more effectively with national policy and funding frameworks.

    Panel discussion chaired by Dr Gillian O’Brien, Professor of Public History, Liverpool John Moores University with panellists Stella Byrne, Head of Investment Northern Ireland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund; Lar Joye, Chair, IMA; and Lisa Shortall, Head of Research, Learning and Cultural Heritage, The Heritage Council.


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