Kevin Barry’s death mask now on public display at Carlow County Museum

Kevin Barry of Tombeagh, County Carlow, was executed just over one hundred years ago on the 1st November 1920 in Mountjoy Gaol, Dublin, for his role in the Irish War of Independence.

Kevin was just 18 years old when he was hanged, in what was the first execution since the 1916 Rising. Both these events lead to his death receiving near worldwide coverage. Last November, exactly one hundred years after of that fateful day, his nephew, Kevin Barry, along with his wife Evelyn and their daughter Niamh visited Carlow County Museum and in a private ceremony, laid a wreath to commemorate the anniversary of his execution.

Since the 1980’s Carlow County Museum has displayed Kevin Barry’s wallet and the remains of the last cigarette he smoked in Mountjoy Gaol immediately before his execution by hanging. These belongings were returned to the Barry family after Kevin’s death and remained in Tombeagh until his nephew, Kevin, presented them to the Museum. 

For this occasion, Ian Dowling, of ‘Irish Pickers’ television show fame and a descendant Kevin Barry, brought Kevin’s Death Mask, which was placed beside the wallet and cigarette, for probably the first time that these items were together. The death mask was cast very soon after Kevin’s death and Ian is a very proud owner of this historic item.

During this visit, Ian committed to very kindly agreeing to loan the Death Mask to the Museum, and earlier this week, some six months later, he returned to fulfil his promise. Ian was joined for the occasion, which, owing to the continuing COVID-19 protocols was a private affair, by Carlow County Museum Curator, Dermot Mulligan and Cllr.Ken Murnane, Chairperson of Carlow County Museum.

Kevin Barry’s descendant Ian Dowling presenting the death mask to the Chairperson of Carlow County Museum, Cllr. Ken Murnane

Reflecting on the provenance of the mask, he stated how he felt that fate had eventually led him to purchase it at auction some years ago and he also expressed his delight that the mask would now be on public display in a museum for the very first time.

The mask was then set into its display case along with an accompanying memorial Kevin Barry broach, also lent by Ian, and other Kevin Barry items and War of Independence artifacts. Overlooking the display case is an exceptional portrait painting of Kevin, which was presented to the Museum by Marie Comerford through Esther Purcell. 

Kevin Barry’s death mask will remain on display in Carlow County Museum until May 2022.    

A short video about the loaning of Kevin Barry’s death mask to Carlow County Museum

Chairperson of Carlow County Museum, Cllr. Ken Murnane commented “We are extremely grateful that Ian has agreed to loan Kevin Barry’s death mask to Carlow County Museum for the next twelve months”. He added “the mask, together with Kevin’s last cigarette and his wallet on display to the public for the first time, brings a very human and poignant dimension to our understanding of this key period in our local and national history”. Cllr. Murnane concluded by saying “now that Carlow County Museum is open to the public again, I’d urge everyone to come and view the unique Kevin Barry artifacts, and the many wonderful pieces in its collection”.         

Carlow County Museum is delighted to welcome back visitors to its 4 galleries. Admission remains FREE however, as COVID-19 health and safety protocols remain in place for the time being, visits must be pre-booked until further notice. Visitors can book their place by phoning the Museum on 059-9131554 or emailing

Further information about the Museum’s opening hours, visiting slots and its COVID 19 health and safety guidelines are also available at

Unless otherwise stated, all images are © copyright of Carlow County Museum

Carlow ‘Hopes to Hop’ again in 2022


A group, in white shirts, participating in the Hopping Procession with packed streets looking on

Today, on what is traditionaly know as Whit Tuesday, would under normal circumstances, see the town of Echternach, Luxembourg, hosting many thousands of people as they take part in the annual @UNESCO World Heritage Status ‘hopping procession’ (D’Iechternacher Sprangprëssessioun). The procession is held annually in honour of St Willibrord, Patron Saint of Luxembourg and the First Apostle of the Netherlands and the founder of Echternach Abbey.

Sadly, this year’s full scale-event was cancelled once again, although local officials held a small ceremony to commomorate the day.

In 690 AD, St Willibrord lead a very successful mission from Rath Melsigi, Co. #Carlow, where he spend twelve years being trained at Ireland’s most important 7th and 8th centuries Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical settlement. To this day his impact can still be seen in the Netherlands, in particular the city of Utrecht, where he was appointed their first Archbishop, Luxembourg where he is the only saint buried in their country, and in the neighbouring countries of Belgium and Germany.

A view of the Basilica of St Willibrord from the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Echternach, Luxembourg

His monastery at Echternach had one of Europe’s great scriptoriums and when founded it would have had Irish and English monks who had been trained here in Co. Carlow. There are many examples of these wonderful books in the libraries and museums around Europe. The Calendar of Willibrord survives and is housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, and he brought this book with him on his mission from Co Carlow. It contains his signature, which is the oldest datable signature of an English person. He died in 739AD and is buried in Echternach.

The manuscript contains several other items alongside the calendar. Principally, these are a copy of the Hieronymian Martyrology and the oldest surviving Dionysian Easter table with its distinctive AD-dating. Surrounding the Easter table are a variety of notes about calendars and related matters, including Willibrord’s horologium. 

In 2017, a Relic of St Willibrord was presented to the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow Town, by the people of Echternach to say ‘Thank You’ to Carlow for training and ordaining Willibrord. It is on permanent display in the Cathedral.

The start of the Walk With Willibrord in June 2017 from St Laserian’s Cathedral, Old Leighlin, to the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow Town, via the beautiful Barrow Way

The exact origins of the procession are lost in time but may well have been a pre-christian event. The procession begins with mass in the Basilica of St Willibrord at 8am and them the Relic of St Willibrord is carried through the streets of the town by the members of the fire brigade. They in turn are followed by up to 10,000 people hopping in his honour. People are organised into large groups, five people per row each separated by a white hankie and the vast majority wearing white & black clothes and they are all led by marching bands playing the same tune.

The Presentation Band leading the Carlow pilgrims through the streets of Echternach
Bishop Denis Nulty and the Carlow pilgrims celebrating the completion of their first Hopping Procession

In 2017 the first known Irish group partook in the procession when nearly sixty people travelled from Carlow. The Basilica of St Willibrord has a large stained glass window referred to as the Irish /Carlow window and depicts Willibrord at Rath Melsigi.

The ‘Irish /Carlow’ stained glass window depicting Willibrord at Rath Melsigi The Basilica of St Willibrord
A photo of part of the 2017 Carlow pilgrimage to Echternach in the Town Square, Echternach with Bishops Burrows and Nulty and Cllr. John Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council
A documentary of the 2019 procession from from city government office in Echternach, Luxembourg

The next hopping procession of Echternach will take place on 7th June 2022, when a delagation from Carlow hopes to travel again to Echternach ‘hop again’ for St Willibrord.

Unless otherwise stated, all images are © copyright of Carlow County Museum


Carlow County Museum is delighted to welcome our visitors back.

However, the health and safety of our visitors and staff is our greatest concern. With that in mind we would ask you to please take a moment to familiarise yourself with our Reopening Guidelines below before you visit. Please scroll for general admission information and details about the available timeslots.

Admission remains FREE but pre-booking will be an essential requirement. You can book your place by phoning the Museum on 059-9131554 or emailing

Opening Hours and available timeslots

Carlow County Museum and Tourist Office will be opened from Monday to Friday, 10.00am – 12.30pm, with last admission at 12 noon; and 2.00pm – 4.30pm, with last admission at 4.00pm.

In order to make the visit safe for visitors and staff you will be asked to choose one of these time slots for your time of arrival:

For the 10.00am to 12.30pm opening hours, the visiting slots are:

10.00am; 10.20am, 10.40am, 11.00am, 11.20am, 11.40am and 12 noon.

Last admission is 12.00 noon to allow visitors to view the exhibits, complete their tour and allow the Museum to undertake necessary Covid-19 protocols.

For the 2.00pm to 4.30pm opening hours, the visiting slots are:

2.00pm; 2.20pm, 2.40pm, 3.00pm, 3.20pm, 3.40pm and 4.00pm.

The Museum will not be opened at Weekends or Bank Holidays for the present.

Group sizes will be limited to six people from a family or social unit. For the moment we will not be facilitating larger group bookings, such as school groups, at this time due to physical distancing requirements.

Last admission is 4.00pm to allow visitors to view the exhibits, complete their tour and allow the Museum to undertake necessary Covid-19 protocols.

Pre-Booking Requirements

Your booking will be the only booking for that time slot. Visitors can pre-book their visits by phoning or emailing the museum. In order to confirm a booking, they will have to provide a contact name, address, telephone/ mobile number and email of at least one member of the visiting party. This is for Covid-19 contact tracing and for us to send an email confirming the booking and the Covid-19 protocols and conditions that the visitors must follow when they arrive at the Museum.

At the time of booking the lead visitor must confirm that all members of the group are well, do not have a cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath or breathing difficulties in the last two weeks. That all members have not knowingly come into contact with a person who has been required to undergo testing, awaiting results of a test or has tested positive for Coronavirus (Covid-19). That all members are not waiting to undergo testing, awaiting results of a test or has tested positive for Coronavirus (Covid-19) within the past two weeks. That all members have not been told to self-isolate within the past two weeks. That all members have not travelled to Ireland from abroad within the past two weeks and should be in quarantine. Anyone answering Yes to these questions will not be admitted.

Arrival at Carlow County Museum

Visitors will present themselves at the Museum at the required time where they will be met by a member of the Museum staff. The Museum staff member will check the details, ask the lead visitor to confirm there are no changes in their Covid-19 circumstances and to re-outline the Museum’s Covid-19 protocols. 

Carlow County Council, Carlow County Museum’s parent body, are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. Any personal information which you provide to us will be treated with the highest standards of security and confidentiality, in accordance with the Data Protection Acts 1988 – 2018. To allow for Public Health Requirements, the contact information and Coronavirus answers you provide will be disposed of within 21 days.

Health and Safety Protocols during your visit

Hand sanitising points have been installed throughout the Museum.

Sanitary facilities and contact-sensitive areas such as doors and handles, are thoroughly sanitised several times a day.

The exhibition spaces have been given specific routing to avoid contact with visitors walking in the opposite direction. This is also why the entrance and exit to the museum are kept separate. All routes along with the exit are clearly indicated by means of arrows and signs.

The rules for social distancing apply in Carlow County Museum; our entire set-up is aimed at ensuring that you can comfortably maintain the desired distance of at least 2 metres.

Every visitor is required to wear a face mask for the duration of their visit. Our staff will be shielded behind a perspex screen at reception and will wear face masks when in the galleries.

The COVID-19 Safety Charter

The COVID-19 Safety Charter is a Government-endorsed initiative to reinforce confidence in domestic and overseas visitors in Irish tourism businesses. The COVID-19 Safety Charter is designed to give comfort and reassurance to our visitors and employees that Carlow County Museum is operating safely.

Fáilte Ireland has issued sector specific guidelines for tourism and hospitality businesses to guide us in how best to meet the Government’s public health advice; by being awarded this Charter, we and all our employees are agreeing to follow the recommended guidelines for the tourism and hospitality sector.

We can confirm that our employees have completed COVID-19 hygiene and safety control training as set out in the Terms & Conditions of the Charter which includes:

  • A clear understanding of the COVID-19 infection; 
  • An awareness of their role in and responsibility for helping prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus; 
  • A clear understanding of standard precautions surrounding infection control; 
  • A clear understanding of the correct hand-washing techniques and practices; 
  • A clear understanding of how to apply this knowledge to their place of work.

The Safety Charter demonstrates to our visitors and employees that we, as a tourism attraction, are operating in line with current Government public health advice and with safety and cleaning protocols in place.

The Covid-19 Safety Charter is endorsed by Fáilte Ireland and the Government of Ireland.

Our Contact Details

If you have any queries or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on any of the below:


Carlow County Museum & Carlow Tourist Office,
College Street,
Carlow Town,
Co. Carlow,
R93 E3T2,


+353 (059) 9131554



For regular updates please follow our social media channels or subscribe to our Museum Newsletter by clicking here.

A copy of our COVID-19 Visitor Guidelines can be downloaded below.

Carlow County Museum is Presented with Interim Museum Accreditation Standard award (MSPI)

The Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI) Award Winners 2020

“it is a very high honour for the Museum to be awarded this prestigious accreditation and congratulations to all involved.”

Cllr. Ken Murnane, Chairperson of the Board of Carlow County Museum, 2021
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A Look Back at Carlow GAA by Paul Donaghy (RIP), August 2009

“Consider the GAA Community the Original Band of Brothers”


Preamble: In August 2009, Carlow GAA celebrated the 125th Anniversary of the founding of the GAA with a magnificent exhibition in Netwatch Cullen Park in partnership with Carlow County Museum and the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society. The exhibition was launched by Christy Cooney, Uachtarán Cumann Luthcleas Gael. As part of the exhibition Paul Donaghy, well know Carlow sports journalist and supporter of the exhibition, then writing for the Carlow People and formerly of the Carlow Nationalist, was asked to write a short summary piece of Carlow GAA. In his immutable style Paul wrote the following excellent expressive summary.

The stand at Netwatch Cullen Park
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Rath Melsigi Cross Restored and Friendship Agreement Signed

Ivan Healy, Honorary Consul General to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Yves Wengler, Mayor of Echternach and Cllr. John Pender, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council unveil the restored early medieval Cross of Rath Melsigi

From Tuesday 6th to Friday 9th of August 2019 County Carlow welcomed a delegation from Echternach, Luxembourg, led by Yves Wengler, Mayor of Echternach, as part of the ongoing renewal of friendship between both areas. The highlights of the visit were the unveiling of the restored early medieval Cross of Rath Melsigi (CW012-025002) and the signing of a Friendship Agreement between both Councils.

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Scéal na Gaeilge i gCeatharlach The Story of the Irish Language in Carlow (2014)

Scéal na Gaeilge i gCeatharlach

I 2014, chuir Músaem Contae Cheatharlach i gcomhar le Glór Cheatharlach an taispeántas “Scéal na Gaeilge i gCeatharlach, The Story of the Irish Language in Carlow” i láthair. Dhírigh an taispeántas ar an tréimhse ó 1899 go 2014. Tá an taispeántas sealadach seo curtha i gcrích.

Ó bhunú Conradh na Gaeilge in 1899 le Mícheál Ó hAnracháin, a cuireadh chun báis níos déanaí dá pháirt in Éirí Amach 1916, go dtí Féilte Pan-Cheilteacha 2012 agus ’13 tá an Ghaeilge tar éis dul ó neart go neart i gCeatharlach. Le dhá bhua náisiúnta i nGlór na nGael agus 35 bliain d’Fhéile Ealaíon Éigse Cheatharlach, bunscoileanna agus meánscoileanna móra a bhfuil an-tóir orthu, tá an Ghaeilge mar dhlúthchuid de shaol laethúil Cheatharlach.

Tá an íomhá © cóipcheart Mhúsaem Contae Cheatharlach.
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‘Mike the Man of the Rás ’73’ (May – October 2013)

‘Mike the Man of the Rás ‘73’ exhibition was developed by Carlow County Museum to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Carlovian Mike O’Donaghue winning Ireland’s great international bike race the Rás Tailteann in 1973. This temporary exhibition has concluded but parts of the exhibition have been incorporated into the main museum exhibitions.

Mike O’Donaghue pictured during the 1967 Rás Tailteann wearing the Carlow jersey sponsored by Corcoran & Co. Ltd. Photo courtesy of Mike O’Donaghue
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Carlow GAA 125th Anniversary Exhibition

“the exhibition will bring back wonderful memories to everybody in Carlow, not alone players, but family of players and current day players who will get inspiration from seeing their heroes of yester year”

Christy Cooney, Uachtarán Cumann Luthcleas Gael. 2009 – 2012

The highlight of Carlow’s Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) 125th Anniversary celebrations in 2009 was the magnificent eleven-day county exhibition in Netwatch Cullen Park in late August, coinciding with Heritage Week. Coiste Chontae Ceatharlach (Carlow County GAA Board) developed this temporary exhibition in partnership with Carlow County Museum and the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society. This temporary exhibition has concluded but parts of the exhibition have been incorporated into the main museum exhibitions.

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#Tyndall200 Online Lecture Event

I Know why the Sky is Blue. Do You? Marking the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of John Tyndall 

In early August 2020, Carlow County Museum in association with the Tyndall National Institute, marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of County Carlow’s great 19th century scientist, inventor, educator and mountaineer, John Tyndall with a series of online lectures, streamed together in one broadcast, titled ‘Tyndall200’. 

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