Carlow County Museum is featured in the December 2020 edition of Irish Country Magazine as one of four sites to visit in Ireland by historian and author Gillian O’Brien. Describing the Museum as a “brilliant hidden gem”, she makes reference to one of our more unique exhibits, Kevin Barry’s last cigarette, as part of the inspiration for her new book The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland’s places of Famine, Death & Rebellion.
Her book explores Ireland’s dark history and its relationship with and the traditions of death, making its recent publication all the more significant during a year of uncertainty, sacrifice and loss for Irish people with the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of her research, Gillian visited over 200 sites across the island of Ireland, reflecting in her interview with the magazine that “it wasn’t the stories that she was discovering in the museums that she found effecting, but the stories that remain untold”. She added “it’s time to reclaim that loss and talk about those people and recognise that they existed and had families”. Her hope is that the book might prompt some people to “head out the door and explore the museums and heritage sites, the memorials and monuments and perhaps to look at our landscape and buildings with a more questioning eye”.
Driving 120 kilometres purposely to view Barry’s discarded cigarette in Carlow County Museum, the author writes that she was intrigued by the fact that a tiny artefact of apparent insignificance could form an important centrepiece in a display, before going on to ponder about its provenance and journey during the past 100 years. These are naturally understandable questions for any inquisitive mind, and we can confirm that the butt was kindly donated to the museum by the Barry family in the 1980’s and has been prominently displayed in our collection ever since.
Suffice to say, Kevin Barry’s long family association with Carlow and the connection to this and other artefacts from his short life, as well as recent recollections about his early years and influences during the Carlow County Council Decade of Centenaries Programme 2020, will ensure that his stories will never remain untold for the Barry family, Carlow and the Irish nation as a whole for generations yet to come.
The latest edition of #IrishCountryMagazine is one sale now. For further information see https://irishcountrymagazine.ie/
For more information on the author Dr. Gillian O’Brien and to purchase a copy of The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland’s places of Famine, Death & Rebellion (Published by DoubleDay Ireland)please visit https://www.gillianobrien.net/the-darkness-echoing or https://www.easons.com/the-darkness-echoing-gillian-obrien-9781781620502