Clare Museum trumpets sounds of ancient Ireland

Clare Museum trumpets sounds of ancient Ireland



Ireland’s rich musical heritage will be showcased at Clare Museum in Ennis during Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann with an exhibition of some Ireland’s oldest known musical instruments spanning more than 6000 years.

Ancient Music Ireland will present the interactive, multi-sensory exhibition at the Ennis-based museum until 18th August 2017.

Featuring reproductions of ancient horns and trumpets from Pre-Norman Ireland back to the Stone Age, the collection will feature rare and historic bodhráns with a story to go with each drum.  Among the frame drums to be displayed are the oldest known surviving bodhrán and stick in Ireland (circa 1935), a drum made from the last goat on Coney Island and examples of drums made by renowned maker, Charlie Byrne of Thurles.

Horns and trumpets are displayed to showcase an evolvement of music and ritual from the Stone Age (circa. 4,000 BC) to the Early Medieval Christian era (circa. 700 AD).  A progression of musical culture is represented from cow horns through cast and sheet bronze trumpets to sacred religious wooden horns covering a 5,000 year period.

Of particular interest at Clare Museum is the Bronze Age musician’s outfit reproduction or the ‘oldest known musician’s outfit’.   The original hoard found in Booleybrien in County Clare from which the outfit is taken, is on permanent display in the Museum.   The artefacts include buttons, cloak pin, bronze horn, chain necklace or horn carrier, axes, a belt buckle and a sword.

John Rattigan, Curator at Clare Museum, stated, “Experts from Ancient Music Ireland will perform music with a reproduced bronze age horn and other ancient instruments while they will also reconstruct the earliest musician’s outfit based on the Booleybrien hoard. The reconstructed parts will be demonstrated in their original role as a specific dress/outfit worn by a Bronze Age horn player from between 1,000 and 800BC.”

Mr. Rattigan is encouraging Fleadh visitors and the local community to attend the exhibition which he said will “bring music archaeology to life.”

“Several of the instruments play exquisite accompaniment to cross cultural indigenous instruments and singing and consequently, the exhibition organisers are inviting collaboration from musicians in the Irish tradition and other traditions from around the world visiting the Fleadh,” stated Mr. Rattigan.

The Ancient Music Ireland exhibition will remain on display at Clare Museum from 13th to 18th August from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.  Admission is free. Further information is available from Clare Museum on (065) 6823382 or visit