Volunteering In Carlow: Carlow County Museum
Located in the heart of Carlow Town, Carlow County Museum offers an enriching experience of Carlow’s heritage and culture.The museum’s four galleries display a wide range of exhibits from Carlow Castle and the Gaol Gallows on the ground floor, to the military and ecclesiastical exhibits on the first floor, there’s enough to pique anyone interest here.
I recently had the opportunity to interview a number of volunteers from the Museum, in order to get a better understanding of what the volunteering role there entails. Sean O’Reilly and Sylvester Hutton were the first two volunteers I had the pleasure of meeting. Both were on hand on the museum’s ground floor gallery, awaiting the arrival of visitors.
Sean and Sylvester have been volunteering in the museum regularly for the past 3 years. Sean’s main reason for volunteering was that it provided a outlet for something to do during the week. In particular because he had some extra free time since retiring, while Sylvester’s main drive for volunteering was his interest in the museum.
The Museum’s ground floor offers a wide range of cultural nostalgia. From the recreated settings of an Irish kitchen, pub, shop, and blacksmith of time’s gone by, to the displays on Governey’s Boot Factory and the Sugar Factory, businesses that intertwined into the family lives of many Carlowvians throughout the years.
On the first floor I met Margaret Ellis, who has been in the museum for 3 years, and volunteers there once a month. The Museum’s volunteer rota is very flexible, and volunteers can opt to be put on the rota, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. While discussing the exhibits currently on display, Margaret shared that her favourite exhibits were the ground floor displays. However there were exhibits she quite liked on the first floor too. The first floor is home to many articles of Carlow heritage. In particular the hand crafted pulpit which many will remember from Carlow Cathedral. Performing Arts, Military, Rebellion and sport exhibits can also be found on the first floor. Margaret spoke of how it was nice to be able to do something with her time, as well as meeting the various people that come to see the displays. Although some people like to keep to themselves, Margaret assured that she is always on hand to offer information as best she can.
If you are curious as to what a typical shift in the museum would entail, all three volunteers explained the process. Volunteers act as guides, meeting and greeting any visitors. If people have questions regarding any of the exhibits, it is their duty to try and help them, and provide relevant information about the exhibits to visitors. The museum staff are always on hand to support the volunteer staff. Volunteers are requested to contribute a minimum of one half-day, choosing either a morning or afternoon slot, on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly rota basis.
Carlow County Museum also offers fantastic opportunities for groups. Interested groups can book a free guided tour, and schools can avail of an additional “fun school quiz” which provided interactive elements, allowing the children to handle Museum artefacts as part of the tour. Families can also join in the fun. The Museum allows families to become Museum Detectives where they can tour the museum while attempting to solve a special family activity book.
Carlow County Museum is open from 10am to 4.30pm (5pm June - August) Mondays to Fridays & 2 - 4.30pm Sundays & Bank Holidays.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering in Carlow, in the museum or indeed in any of the other sectors, we would greatly encourage you to pick up the phone and give us a call on 059 9173033 and we can arrange a meeting to help you find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you. You can also find us on Twitter: @VolunteerCarlow and Facebook: Carlow Volunteer Centre where you can keep up to date with all our latest opportunities, events and general happenings in Carlow.