German Chancellor Angela Merkel pays tribute to Seamus and his Nore Folk Museum

A COUNTY Kilkenny museum has got the “thumbs up” from the most powerful politician in Europe!

A COUNTY Kilkenny museum has got the “thumbs up” from the most powerful politician in Europe!

Though engrossed in high-profile make-or-break efforts to save the Euro and indeed to safeguard the future of the EU itself, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has found time to pay tribute to the “wonderful and joyous” Nore Folk Museum in Bennettsbridge.

Curator Seamus Lawlor said he was “chuffed” to receive the letter from Berlin at year’s end, in which the Chancellor’s secretary relayed the comments of Ms Merkel.

The letter was in response to information about the museum forwarded to her office by members of a continental tour group that visited Bennettsbridge a few weeks before.

The letter was in German and on official federal government stationary and Seamus waited with bated breath for a museum patron to translate it.

Standing at the entrance to the renowned Aladdin’s Cave of Exhibits, he listened to the magic words in the crisp winter air. His heart warmed when the message became clear: “The Chancellor applauds your joyous and wonderful work in promoting Ireland’s culture and heritage through your vast collection of artefacts”.

She also expressed her good wishes to Seamus for the future.

“I am delighted with this good will message” Seamus said, “as it confirms the many ringing endorsements I have received from visitors from all over world”.

The museum underwent renovation in 2011, including the addition of further exhibiting space necessitated by the need to accommodate the more than 12,000 artefacts on display.

The exhibits range from ancient farm tools pre-dating the Stone Age, complete threshing sets, relics of the Land War and famine era, and replicas of old pubs and blacksmith’s forges, to everyday household contrivances representing all the decades of the last three centuries.

The new year could see another boost for the acclaimed folk museum that nestles on the top of historic Cannon Hill in the shadow of the Blackstairs Mountains and Mount Leinster. RTÉ’s Nationwide programme has expressed an interest in featuring a report on Seamus’s remarkable collection.

“I look forward to that,” he enthused, “because apart from the museum the coverage will reflect beautifully on the district and help to put my native Bennettsbridge on the map”.

Seamus pointed out that the RTÉ crew will be following in the footsteps of some famous people. In 1650, Cromwell rested on Cannon Hill for a night or two on his way to capture Kilkenny City, and in 1690, King Billy of Ulster Loyalist fame paid a visit to the Hill during his military campaign.

“Needless to say”, the jovial curator quipped, “the Nationwide team will receive a somewhat warmer welcome here than the reception those two gentlemen got from the locals!”