Transporting you from the fields of the Somme back through time to the Iron Age, Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff lifts history off the page and brings it to life before your eyes.
As Europe marks the centenary of the Great War, later known as World War I, the museum’s WWI Trench Experience, which features a 350-metre long replica trench, gives visitors a fascinating glimpse into the conditions endured by the millions of young men who fought and died in the fields of France and Belgium, and beyond, from 1914 to 1918.
Built to the exact specifications of a British trench, visitors to this immersive, multimedia experience – the largest replica trench in the UK and Ireland – can put themselves in the shoes of a sniper waiting to strike, or an infantry soldier preparing to go over the top to an almost certain death. It’s an absorbing and deeply affecting experience, made all the more real by the fact that almost 700 men from County Cavan perished in similar conditions during the Great War.
Once you’ve dug yourself out of the trenches, the museum itself; a converted convent and school; contains three storeys of rooms packed with Irish history, priceless artefacts and innovative interactive storytelling.
To partner the WWI Trench Experience, the museum’s World War I exhibit features actual weapons and barbed wired reclaimed from the fields of the Somme. Time may have worn their edges away, but the experience of seeing them at first hand cuts deep nonetheless.
Elsewhere the museum is home to such ancient artefacts as flint flakes dating from 5500 BC, and spear heads, axe heads and food vessels dating from 2000 BC. It is also home to the rare Killycluggin Cult Stone, an Iron age monument decorated with a distinctive ‘La Tene’ style curved line design that is dated to between 400 BC and 100 AD.
A recent addition is the personal handgun of Irish republican, Sinn Féin party founder and MP for Cavan, Arthur Griffith, which will likely feature in the major exhibit the museum will host next year to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. The rising was known at the time as the ‘Sinn Féin rebellion’, despite little involvement by Griffith’s party. A new immersive 1916 exhibition commemorating the Rising will open at the Museum in April 2016. The exhibition will feature a re-creation of the GPO on O’ Connell Street in Dublin, as it would have looked in 1916. Don’t miss this opportunity to take a walk through time at Cavan County Museum.
With a large tea and coffee area, well-stocked gift shop, educational facilities and modern playground area, Cavan County Museum is the perfect place to immerse yourself for an entertaining and enlightening family day out. Over 7,500 years of history is waiting to be discovered just 20 minutes’ drive from Cavan – go explore it.
Open Tuesday – Saturday all year round. Also open Sundays June – September. Admission: €6 adults. €4 Children and OAPs. Families €14 (2 adults and 2 children).
For more information on Cavan County Museum, visit www.cavanmuseum.ie or call 049-854 4070