A Trail of Nations

Trail assembled by Northern Ireland Museums Council. <P>Images courtesy of the museums. | 10 May 1999


North Down Heritage centre has a fine collection of work by local artists past and present.


Down County Museum is a community museum that occupies the restored buildings of the old Down County Gaol, built between 1789 and 1796. People were held here for execution or for transportation to Australia. The United Irishman, Thomas Russell, was hanged at the gateway in 1803.

This county has a rich history that the museum helps to explain. Its history encompasses prehistoric people, the Vikings, the Normans and Ireland's patron saint, Saint Patrick who is buried nearby in Down Cathedral graveyard.


The Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum explains the historical development of Ireland's linen industry from its origins to the present day. In the weaving workshop, John McAtasney, the last of the hand loom damask linen weavers demonstrates his skills at the Jacquard hand loom.

Assistant weavers are being taught to carry on this fascinating craft and with the support of a Card Cutter, the weaving of traditional and new damask linens continues.


Baltic Amber is just one of the interesting exhibits on show atFermanagh County Museum. In 1939 during turf cutting in Fermanagh, a Bronze Age hoard dating from the 8th century B.C. was uncovered. The find consisted of a bronze socketed knife, a woodworking gouge and amber necklace beads.(On loan from Armagh County Museum)

Throughout prehistoric Europe, amber from the Baltic region and especially Denmark was traded. If these beads were manufactured from Danish amber, they may have been exchanged in the Late Bronze Age for copper ore which was plentiful in Ireland at that time but was not available in Denmark.


A siege-gun of the Spanish Armada ship 'La Trinidad Valencera', in theTower Museum, Derry. The gun was made in 1556 in Mechelen, Belgium. The ship sunk off the Donegal coast in 1588 but has been excavated by the City of Derry Sub-aqua Club.

The Tower Museum also contains a permanent exhibition outlining the history and development of the ancient city of Derry from geological times to the present day. The design of the walled city of Derry was probably based on the plan of a French frontier city Vitry-le-Francois designed by the Italian, Hieronimo Marino.

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