“Today we have a number of past workers with us, and many Friends of the Down County Museum. If our plans succeed, we hope to have a new extension to the back of the museum soon to house the very important Downpatrick High Cross which goes back to 880-900 AD. It now must be housed indoors to preserve it. There will also be a new restaurant added on too.
“It will act as a centrepiece for the display of the Hill of Down which has a rich history. Our work in the museum continues as we try and make all of our collection more accessible to the public. For example, we have around 30,000 images which we are working with to make availbale to our local communities.”
Also speaking at the birthday celebration, former South Down MP Eddie McGrady remembered how the DOE had plans to demolish the old Gaol buildings and it was with the intervention from the Council that prevented this from happening. He said, “They were going to bulldoze the site and turn it into a car park. This would have been a huge lose to our area. We managed to get £25,000 from the Council to purchase the site and when the museum was set up Brian Turner became our first curator.
[caption id="attachment_23779" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="At the opening celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of Down County Museum were Brian Leatham, Friends of Down County Museum Treasurer, Mike King, Museum Curator, Leslie Simpson, Keeper of Collections, Albert Colmer, Local Historian, Down Council Chairman Councillor Eamonn O'Neill, former South Down MP Eddie McGrady, Councillor Colin McGrath, South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, Linda McKenna, Museum Education Officer, and Alan Thompson. retired Museum Photographer."]
“It was a very exciting project back then and was originally intended to be the area library for the South East of Northern Ireland. By those early days the building had fallen into a very poor state of repair and had been used as a butcher’s store among other things. At one time, the secretary’s desk and chair fell through the floor. It was quite dangerous.
“But now the museum is something we are all very proud of and the curator Mike King and his team are doing an excellent job. It has now become a real living museum.”
Through the day there were some children activities organised along with the new Museum Trail, quizes, handling the mystery object, and competitions, and in the evening, it was the turn of the adults to enjoy the setting of the museum with Downpatrick’s well known pop/rock group, Rosetta Stone.
The five piece group duly played their old favourites to a very appreciate audience and before long many were up dancing. Rosetta Stone had played at the museum’s opening 30 years ago and the lads have certainly have not lost any of their entertaining magic in singing songs from the Seventies and Eighties from their old albums.
Preparations are also underway for a new exhibition highlighting 30 years of collecting the history of County Down, with 30 x 30: Celebrating the Museum’s Collections
opening in July. The displays will feature highlights of the collection chosen by a range of local people who will be working with museum staff to select their favourite or most memorable items. Among those choosing objects will be pupils from local schools who will be making their selections after Easter.
The Museum was established by Down District Council in 1981 to collect, conserve and interpret objects relating to the history and culture of the County, with thousands of visitors enjoying a varied range of events and exhibitions over the past 30 years.
For further details on upcoming events, please contact Down County Museum on 028 4461 5218.]]>