VIDEO: Moynalty Steam Threshing Museum... ‘A treasure trove waiting to be discovered'
If you've been to the beautiful village Moynalty, there's every chance you've been to the Steam Threshing Festival that takes places there on the second Sunday of every August (when there's not a pandemic).
Thousands gather to enjoy the vintage displays, threshing displays and listen to the ancient engines and their ear-splitting whistles that roll through the picture postcard village. This year's festival - the first for two years - will take place on Sunday, 14th August.
Just inside the threshing field sits the Moynalty Steam Threshing Museum - packed with an extensive, varied and valuable collection of old agricultural machinery and household items that were in use many years ago. It's a portal to another age and one that will resonate with anyone with a connection to past generations, in other words, all of us.
The first thing that strikes you about the museum is the obvious passion and foresight the museum's founders had for the protection and preservation of our social and cultural history.
Those men were Philly Donegan (RIP), Paddy Gaynor (RIP) and Sean Quinn.
Sean Quinn, now in his 80th year, recalls how they gathered 'bits and pieces' to display at some of those early threshing festivals of the late 1970's.
A 17th century thatched cottage was the first main attraction, kitted out with dresser and delph, a crane which hung over an open fire for hanging kettles and pots.
The simple displays proved hugely popular with visitors to the Steam Threshing Festival and as the collections to display grew, so did the ambitions of the committee.
"There was such interest in it that we knew we would have to improve on it and that it would play a big part in our shows," says Sean. Around 1988 we put up a marquee in the field and we put all our antiques into that.
"At that time we didn't have enough stuff of our own so we'd have to travel all around the country picking up bits and pieces and getting the lend of stuff for the day.
"We'd go to Oldcastle, to Nobber or Athboy and bring it back here and keep it safe for the week and then return it.
"So that went on for about six or seven years before we decided that it was going so well on threshing day that we would have to build our own museum."
By the turn of the century a state-of-the-art building was constructed in the corner of the threshing field and with plenty of space to fill, the committee kept sourcing the precious memorabilia and agricultural artefacts from all over the country.
"I remember the first year we put our antiques into it and we thought would we ever fill it," laughs Sean. "But we kept collecting and people kept donating stuff to us because they saw what we were trying to do and that we were doing it well with restoring and preserving things. Everything we would get we would restore, every little thing helped."
After years of hard work and dedication Sean is naturally very proud of the museum and is keen to see as many people as possible come and enjoy and immerse themselves in the ways of rural Ireland through decades past.
"I would be very proud of it now, certainly. There's so much history here and it's simple really, we just based it on how people lived and worked in this locality and we did lean a bit towards agriculture because agriculture played such a huge part in how people lived and what they did with what they had.
"It worked for us, every museum is different, and go down different roads but it's very much part of the threshing now and on threshing day this is such a great added extra. It's important that we have it, as someone once said to me: 'If you lose your heritage you lose your way.'"
On Sunday April 24th (11-5pm), a special Open Day of the Moynalty Steam Threshing Museum will take place. It's a major opportunity to see first hand the amazing collections of old engines, tractors, antiquities, vintage machinery and metalwork, household items, historical documents and curios. You'll be able to see original hot waterbottles made of porcelain, a clothes iron heated by lumps of coal and a the huge collection of bottles, tools and bicycles. Indeed many of the items on display were donated to the museum from all over the country including a clothes washing machine from Dublin dating back to the 1800's and a wonderfully evocative set of vintage 'wireless' radios which were bequeathed to the museum by the late Gerry Farrell in 2013.
Now the committee are keen to have the wonderfully curated displays and windows into the ways of yesteryear seen and enjoyed by more people all year round. They want to welcome travelling tour groups, schools from primary and secondary level, active retired groups, community groups and individuals to come and enjoy all the Moynalty Steam Threshing Museum has to offer.
Museum Ctte Secretary Theresa McKenna explains: "We are trying to bring light to this lovely museum by inviting more and more people to visit because there are treasures here from our social and cultural history of rural Ireland of which a lot of younger people may not be aware.
A lot of people would be conscious now of sustainability, well what we have here is what sustainability was all about, where everything was used, had a purpose."
"We have to open up this wonderful museum and bring people in and we hope to have day tours, school groups, active retired and community groups. We're ready to welcome them all and accommodate them and let them see all these amazing artefacts that have been restored with love and care by founders of the museum.
It's a treasure trove that's waiting to be discovered."
For more information or to book a visit see www.moynaltysteamthreshing.ie OR email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 0469244810 / 0879396954 /
- Facilities for tour groups
- Coach and bus parking available on the grounds
- Park & Building are fully wheelchair accessible
- Parkway and picnic facilities available
- Lunchroom available for use by groups - please enquire when booking
- Light refreshments can be arranged on request - please enquire when booking