Welcome to the first blog post by The People’s Museum of Limerick!
We have invited Limerick based visual artist Mike O’Brien to come through our doors for the full house tour and to give his first person account of what he sees here at No.2 Pery Square.
We wanted to find out how an individual artist might relate to the museum and its rich history!
As a new addition to our team, Mike will go on to share more findings from our collection in blog form as well as in social media posts with narration, as he gets to know the museum even better in the coming weeks and months! Here are Mike’s words so far:
I sit here as bright green, sky-reaching trees sway from side to side outside the window in front of me. I’m in a small room that feels like a secret hiding place on the top floor of No.2 Pery Square, in Limerick city centre.
People going about their day enter and exit my view as I stare further into People’s Park. I have just come back from Kilkee, County Clare after being at my fathers 80th birthday party. He was full of stories about his upbringing with 13 siblings in the 1940’s and 50’s, in Limerick city centre.
Now upon my return to Limerick I am calmly pondering what is right here in front of me; People’s Park and where I sit, The People’s Museum of Limerick. These are the words that keep popping out at me; ‘The People’.
What is our relationship with this foundational concept of ‘The People’?
Do we feel connected to this concept and its existential reality?.. and if not, why?
I’m not going to dive deep into existential philosophy here!
But what I will dive into is once again what I’m seeing right here in front of me. I have just finished the People’s Museum’s free tour.
My mind is attempting to process everything all at once, but I expect I’ll be strolling through these beautiful Georgian rooms many more times soon! Any hard facts I share here regarding the history of the building are from official literature available from the museum that I have had the pleasure to read since my initial visit.
What will first strike you when entering this museum, is its wonderful Georgian architecture. It was built in 1838, at the very end of the classical Georgian period. It represents the tail end of a rich tradition of classical design.
What will no doubt strike you next is the welcoming staff!
‘They’re pure sound in there!’ are the words that came to my mind,
in typical Limerick slang. Eugene showed me through all the rooms. Afterwards, my phone’s photo gallery is once again in the thousands. So if you like taking photos, come prepared!
The museum hosts its ever-growing permanent collection, containing a mind-blowing amount of objects from Limerick’s history in it’s 17 rooms. There are also temporary exhibits and private events held in the museum. These typically take place in the Blue Gallery Room overlooking People’s Park and in the Coach House behind the main building and the connecting garden.
The garden is the only example of the Georgian period open to the public in Ireland! For tours or making an event booking by the way, contact our curator William by email at email@example.com or talk to our friendly staff by phone at 083 399 4186.
What I found most interesting after seeing all of the rooms!…
Surprisingly, one of my favourite details of the whole building was actually the hall and stairway design. It gives a really calm sense of tranquillity when moving throughout the museum.
The walls have marbleised paint work in this area. This had become fashionable in the early 19th century, imitating ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Analysis has shown the marbling here to be original to the house, which continues to the very top floor. There are very few examples in Ireland of such a marbling scheme on this large scale.
The museums charming grandfather clocks were the perfect accompaniment to lead on to the many treasures that followed on from the main entrance.
Apart from this, what seemed to hit me the most as I finished the tour, was a delightful juxtaposition of old and new, in the ‘Museum of Childhood’ on the top floor.
I saw old and rare handmade Irish dolls that embodied a unique innocence of craft not often seen today, juxtaposed with collectors item Barbie’s, Action Men and several modern yet rapidly outdating icons of our recent past. These physical objects give a visceral experience of nostalgia in contrast to anything observed in a fleeting social media feed. I felt like a child again, coming back to say hello to the lucid heroes of the playroom!
With the contrast of old and new, what struck me as strangely insightful was observing the similarities across these objects of pre and post-industrialisation; The humble aspiration for self-flourishing in both humble handmade dolls and mass-produced ones alike.
I’m now reflecting on how we can sometimes lose touch with creating & sustaining shared meaning in our lives, yet we can once again see our commonalities when the passage of time is held up for our gaze in the form of the many treasures we produce as ‘The People’, both grandiose and humble.
I’m pondering this while I sit in the adjacent hotel of No.1 Pery Square, a great follow up spot for a coffee and bite to eat, while also indulging in the delightful books I found at the museum entrance.
The vast history of the very city I have lived in for so long is honestly blowing my mind since this first visit!
I hope my brief reflection on this experience of the museum has answered in part my question of how we may relate to the concept of ‘The People’ or at least has provoked a thought process that I hope you will come to engage with even more. I also hope you got a taste for the culture of this museum who will welcome you from wherever you are planning your visit!
Stay connected with this blog for more insights into Limericks rich cultural history and for previews of the many exciting events held here too. We will be diving deeper on the vast content of the museum in the next blog posts. We have certainly only skimmed the surface!
For example, did you know that No.1 to No.6 Pery Square were built with the notorious Tontine ‘death pact’ scheme, the same kind that became so popular in crime literature?
In the following blogs I will be covering this and much more…
Who were the original tenants of No.2, Pery Square? What kind of luxury lifestyles were lived in Limerick’s past? How did a coach house for horses evolve into high art? How did Limerick evolve from poverty enforcing Medieval fortified walls into Georgian architecture and thriving trade?
See you at The Peoples Museum of Limerick, No.2 Pery Square on your next visit!
For tours or making an event booking, contact our curator William by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to our friendly staff by phone at 083 399 4186.
Author – Mike O’Brien