About Carlow County Museum

We are Ireland's newest County Museum, displaying the varied history & archaeology of County Carlow, Ireland. Our exhibitions are housed over four galleries and we are open all year round. Our Blog will cover our extensive displays, featuring research done by staff and the community. The Museum has free admission. www.carlowmuseum.ie

MSPI Interim Accreditation Award

18 May 2020

What a great way to celebrate International Museums Day, #IMD2020, with the fantastic news that we have been awarded ‘Interim Accreditation under the Museums Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI)’ by the Heritage Council. The MSPI promotes professional standards in the care of collections in Irish museums and galleries, and this award recognises our achievement of those standards through accreditation.

This award acknowledges the work we do, and the support given to us by our parent body, Carlow County Council, and our founders, the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society (CHAS). The process in achieving this accreditation is a lengthy and detailed one but is of enormous benefit to any museum that is involved in this process. The scheme has been operational for twenty-one years and we are the first Museum in Co. Carlow to join the scheme and to achieve this status.

The Staff of Carlow County Museum 2019/2020

The Staff of Carlow County Museum 2019/2020

The accessors in their report state that “Carlow County Museum has benefitted from a considered, and measured, development over many years. The Museum project complements Carlow County Council’s ongoing, and significant, commitment to a range of well-regarded cultural and heritage projects across the county, many of national significance.”

Also celebrating MSPI awards today are: Cork Public Museum, Glebe House & Gallery OPW, IFI The Irish Film Archive, Kilmainham Gaol OPW, Little Museum of Dublin, Hunt Museum, The Shackleton Museum (formerly Athy Heritage Centre-Museum), Fota House, Irish Heritage Trust, Waterford Treasures: Bishop’s Palace and Waterford Treasures: Medieval Museum. Congratulations to everybody!

You can read more about the MSPI standards and accreditation here.

The Heritage Council Community Grant Scheme has €750,000 To ...

The Plague of 664 AD

Did you know that the first place the plague of AD 664 was recorded in Ireland was in Co. Carlow! The exact location was the famed religious settlement of Rath Melsigi, founded by the great St Ecgberct of Rath Melsigi & Iona.

The Venerable Bede, the Father of English History, recorded the plague in his AD 731 seminal book, the Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Rath Melsigi was the most important Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical settlement in Ireland in the 6th and 7th centuries. It was from here in AD 690 that St Willibrord, Patron Saint of Luxembourg, First Apostle to the Netherlands, set out on his famous mission after spending twelves years in Carlow being formed as a missionary monk.

three men in suits outside standing around a medieval stone cross

Unveiling the restored 7th century Cross of Rath Melsigi, County Carlow, on Wednesday 7th August 2019 were (L to R) Ivan Healy, Honorary Consul General to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Yves Wengler, Mayor of Echternach, Luxembourg and Cllr. John Pender, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council.

According to Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Emeritus Professor, Department of History, NUI Galway, “Rath Melsigi is at the heart of the Irish and English engagement with the continent in the Early Middle Ages. From here a group of Irishmen and Englishmen set out in AD 690 on a voyage that would transform the religious and political landscape of Europe forever and lay the foundations for the great cultural revival of the decades leading up to AD 800 that scholars call The Carolingian Renaissance.”

Prof. Ó Cróinín, whose research is the basis of rekindling Rath Melsigi’s European connections, has written about the Plague of AD 664 in an RTÉ Brainstorm article which you can read in full here

Carlow Wins National Heritage Week Award

6th February 2020

The Heritage Council’s Heritage Week 2019 Awards took place today and Carlow County Museum, Myshall Muintir na Tíre and the Myshall Community Centre won “Le Cheile san Eorap Award” for the event: “St Columbanus and the Making of Europe”. Continue reading

Historical Research

If you are looking to do research, we at the Museum are always happy to help however we can. Our contact details can be found here.

The below links may be of help in your research on County Carlow.

Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society


The Carlow Historical & Archaeological Society (CHAS) was formed in 1946 when a small group of local enthusiasts came together to establish a forum through which the study of local history might be encouraged.

Continue reading

“On My Honour I Will Try…” Scouting in Carlow, 90 Years Growing

September 2019

Carlow County Museum and 5th Carlow (Town) Scouts present a new exhibition:

“On My Honour I Will Try…”

Scouting in Carlow, 90 Years Growing

Friday the 13th may be unlucky for some but for Carlow County Museum it proved to be a lucky September day to launch their new exhibition with the 5th Carlow (Town) Scouts  “On My Honour I Will Try…” Scouting in Carlow, 90 Years Growing.

a group of people smiling at a young girl as she cuts a ribbon

Cutting the ribbon on our new exhibition

Continue reading

Saint Columbanus and the Making of Europe

There was a large turn-out on Monday the 19th August for a special lecture in Myshall exploring ‘Saint Columbanus and the Making of Europe‘, The lecture was organised by Carlow County Museum in partnership with Myshall Muintir na Tíre and the Myshall Community Centre as part of National Heritage Week, and delivered by Dr Alexander O’ Hara, Department of Medieval History, University of St Andrews.

The lecture explored the life and times of St. Columbanus (who was born and raised in Myshall, Carlow), and how his mission took him from there to the north of Ireland to Bangor, Co. Down. From Bangor, Columbanus set off on his great missionary journey to the continent where he founded many monasteries including Luxeuil in France and Bobbio in Italy. Many of Columbanus’ writings survive and they consistently inspire and encourage.

room full of people listening to a lecture

A packed room in Myshall Community Center for the lecture

The lecture looked at the surprising influence of these writings on one such man – Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister and a founding father of the European Union. Following the devastation of World War II, a group of statesmen and scholars from across Europe, including Robert Schuman met in Luxeuil-les-Bains to commemorate the 14th centenary of the birth of St. Columbanus, and to discuss plans for the future of Europe. The founding of the modern European Union can be traced to this gathering.

The evening explored how an Irish immigrant from the edge of Europe was one of the first to voice the concept of a united Europe and the wider impact of the Myshall-born saint on European history.

A wonderful evening was had, with a lively Q&A at the end discussing the life of Columbanus and European politics today – a timely issue, particularly with Brexit, looming so near! Many thanks to all those who attended.


Dr Alexander O Hara

Dr Alexander O Hara

Dr Alexander O’Hara is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews. He is the author of Jonas of Bobbio and the Legacy of Columbanus: Sanctity and Community in the Seventh Century and editor of Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe, both published by Oxford University Press in 2018. Heritage Week is coordinated and managed by the Heritage Council. This event has been shortlisted for a Heritage Council’s Heritage Week 2019 Award.


Early Medieval Cross of Rath Melsigi unveiled

Recently 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 signing of a Friendship Agreement between both Councils and the unveiling of the restored early medieval Cross of Rath Melsigi. In AD 690, St. Willibrord, Patron Saint of Luxembourg, First Apostle of the Netherlands, departed County Carlow after spending twelve years at the famed monastic settlement of Rath Melsigi and undertook his mission to the continent. In AD 698 he established his major monastery in the town of Echternach. His monastery also had a scriptorium which over the centuries produced many fabulous manuscripts. Cllr. John Pender, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council, led the welcome by Carlow County Council. Continue reading