Clare Museum saw visitor numbers rise by 14% in 2016 with 36,000 people visiting the Ennis-based museum compared to 31,500 during the previous year.
Statistics for the year indicate that the domestic market was the biggest visiting group (30%) followed by the visitors from the United States (28%). Visitors from the UK, France and Germany were also prominent.
A survey carried out by Clare Museum shows visitors stayed for an average of 30 minutes and a variety of promotional strategies, including promotion by the adjoining Tourist Office and the success of the Museum’s educational programme were factors in attracting growing numbers during the year.
John Rattigan, curator of the museum said the growth in visitors during the off-peak season was central to growing overall numbers for 2016. He explained, “The museum launched a series of curriculum-focused workshops targeted at both primary and secondary schools with great success. These workshops were responsible for up to 40% of visits to the museum outside the tourist season.”
Mr. Rattigan continued, “The survey also indicates that temporary exhibitions by both the Museum and the County Archive collections were significant attractions. The Museum’s commemorative exhibition on the 1914 Clare Hurling Teams has remained a steady attraction to visitors in its own right long after it was due to be replaced by another temporary exhibition.”
Meanwhile, a new publication on one of the most tangible links between Clare and the Easter Rising of 1916 is now available to the public for free at Clare Museum.
‘An Interpretive Guide to Patrick Brennan’s Autograph Book’ was launched by Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr. Bill Chambers as part of the Clare 1916 Programme and coincides with an exhibition of the original artefact at Clare Museum.
Meelick man Patrick Brennan was interned at Frongoch Internment Camp in Wales in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising along with other republicans and took with him an autograph book. The autograph book contains the names, addresses, thoughts and aspirations of 54 people interned with Brennan, including Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy who would later rise to prominence during the revolutionary period.
It came into the possession of Clare Museum in 2014 when its sale auction came to the attention of Cllr Cathal Crowe, also from Meelick, and it was subsequently purchased by Clare County Council. Researched and written by Dr Tomás Mac Conmara, the publication details the contents of the autograph book, providing biographical information on the signatories and an analysis of their poetry, comments and illustrations.
Commenting on the artefact, which is on display in the long-term exhibition at the museum, John Rattigan said, “One of the challenges facing the museum is getting the balance right between the provision of access to the autograph book on the one hand, and its preservation on the other. It is susceptible to damage through handling and yet while on exhibition we can only show two pages at a time. The interpretive guide allows the museum to overcome these obstacles and to provide a resource for the adult learner, local historian and the general visitor.’