Open Air Museum Comes to Antrim and Armagh

Director Gavin Donaghy hopes that history buffs will come out in force in this summer as part of the Festival of British Architecture

Irish Archaeological Research is bringing archaeology to Glenariff Forest Park in County Antrim on July 21-22 and Gosford Forest Park in County Armagh on July 28-29 with an Open Air Museum, featuring family-friendly historical activities and showcasing artefacts from archaeological excavations around the country.

The Forest Service of Northern Ireland is hosting the events as part of the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of British Archaeology. Open Air Museum director Gavin Donaghy (pictured above), an experienced archeologist who has worked at sites all over the UK and Ireland, explains the idea behind the outdoor concept.

'The Idea came about because we knew through working in commercial archaeology that lots of sites had been excavated in Ireland over the past ten years, but very little information about these sites has been made available to the public.

'We thought the Open Air Museum would be a great way to get information about these amazing sites out to there. We also thought the museum would be a great way to promote the archaeology that's in the vicinity of the museum, wherever it is placed.'

The Festival of British Archeology is a UK-wide initiative presenting over 750 special events organised and hosted by museums, heritage organisations, national and countryside parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists across the UK.

'When we combine the Open Air Museum with the artifacts from excavations and a living history component such as a pottery workshop, hunter gatherer archery and a children's art area,' added Donaghy, 'then we have an event that can engage a whole family in the heritage of their area.

'We are hoping to have the museum travel all around the country and promote the archaeology found around the whole of the island of Ireland. Irish Archeological Research are a member supported social enterprise, so any money donated by members or made from activities and selling small replica artifacts support the project.'

Activities at the Open Air Museum cost £1 each and will include a prehistoric pottery workshop, archery (learn prehistoric hunting techniques) and a children’s activity area. Parking is £4 and entry to the museum is free. 

For more information visit the Irish Archeological Research website. The Festival of British Archeology runs until July 29, 2012. Photography courtesy of the Ballycastle Chronicle.