Hunt Museum reaches out to Limerick Regeneration areas

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

Knights for a day: Nathan Keogh, Weston, Jake Odiase, Dooradoyle, Tommie Kirby, Weston and Jonathan McGrath, Dooradoyle, at the medieval banquet at the West End Youth Centre, Ballinacurra Weston. Picture: Dave Gaynor
THE ‘UNIQUE’ stories of people from across Limerick’s Regeneration stories are finally being teased out through a new outreach initiative by the Hunt Museum.

THE ‘UNIQUE’ stories of people from across Limerick’s Regeneration stories are finally being teased out through a new outreach initiative by the Hunt Museum.

Seven diverse projects are currently underway in the Communities of Culture programme, which has been developed by the Hunt Museum in a bid to reach out to these areas and explore their respective stories of heritage, community and culture.

In St Mary’s Park, the Men’s Shed group is bringing together a wealth of stories of regattas, angling and fishing, while in Moyross a knitting group is examining the history of Limerick lace, while creating their own unique pieces, which will culminate later in the year in a public exhibition.

Funding of over €50,000 through a grant from Limerick Regeneration, including funds made available from Friends of the Hunt Museum, have allowed the project to proceed.

Dr Hugh Maguire, director of the museum, said they have an imperative to explore the culture of all parts of the city, in this year of City of Culture.

“In the gospel of St John, there is the expression ‘In my father’s house, there are many mansions’, and I’d like to think that in this museum, as small as it is, that there are many mansions and many potential stories. Some of those stories are on our doorstep at the moment,” he said.

“This initiative with the Regeneration programme is part of our plan to open up the museum more and more to the physicality of the city, and the intellectual and cultural agenda of the city. We’re very keen to grow and grow this area of our work,” he said.

“We have a role to play; there is an urgent need for places like the Hunt in the heart of the city, and we want to be supportive of the city, and we want the public to be supportive of the Hunt,” he said.

The projects will culminate in four community based pop-up style touring exhibitions, highlighting the achievement, stories and heritage of each area.

Dominique Bouchard, curator of education and outreach at the museum, said the projects are driven by the interests of the people in the communities themselves, and are partnered with a host of agencies across the city. “The most important part for us is that it’s their project and we’re just facilitating them,” she said.

Among the projects recently staged was a medieval feast in the West End youth centre in Ballinacurra Weston, where primary school pupils got to be kings, knights and princesses for a day.

Aged seven to ten, the 17 children had been working since February to step back into medieval times, with the help of students from the Limerick School of Art & Design, who made inflatable sculptures for their production, and the Iryshe Tudor Companye, who made costumes, banners and shields to embellish the hall. Jodie Corbett, aged seven, a pupil at Our Lady of Lourdes school, got to play a princess on the day, while Patrick Nolan, from Carew Park, played a knight.

While Patrick was well accustomed to the stage, having appeared in numerous school plays, he said he hasn’t got the acting bug and wants to be a soccer player when he grows up - but is just setting his sights on the Carew Park team for the present.

Pamela Keogh, a youth worker with the Monday Club at the centre, explained that each Monday night they provide art, drama, fitness and various other courses for children.

“I think they really enjoyed it. They felt confident and comfortable enough to get up and do it in front of all their friends and family.

The children visited the Hunt Museum on five occasions to view and understand the artefacts relating to that period of history.

She said the four-year old club is open to any children who would like to join, and is not restricted to the locality. “We have drop in classes at night-time for older kids, from 10 up to 22, we don’t stop at 18.”