The opening of the Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina, Co Mayo, last Tuesday, April 2 heralded a new era for Irish history.
The establishment of the priceless collection of historical Irish material in a purpose designed facility on Pearse Street in Ballina allows the public access to 400 years of Irish history in an experience that reveals the story of our nation in first-hand accounts.
This represents the realisation of the life-long dream of the late Jackie Clarke, a Ballina man who lovingly and expertly compiled this vast collection for the people of his home town and those who visit it to enjoy.
Thanks to the generosity of his widow Mrs Ann Clarke, Jackie’s collection has been permanently housed in Ballina’s former Provincial Bank building. The wonderful new exhibition centre is the result of a €5m project developed by Mayo County Council in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland and with the support of the National Spatial Strategy Gateways and Hubs ERDF funding (2002-2020 ).
The completed development, which is now about to open on a full time basis, is set to generate an unprecedented boost for the local economy and copper-fasten north Mayo’s stake in the west’s tourism industry.
The facility will also become a centre of academic excellence, attracting international scholars to view this collection which has come to be regarded as one of the leading collections of Irish historical material in the world.
Visitors will not be disappointed. While the breadth and significance of the attraction has been much publicised to date, the manner in which it has been permanently displayed is a true revelation.
The design of the new facility was awarded to the multi award winning Irish exhibition design company - Martello Media. For the last year the company has worked closely with the collection’s director, Sinead McCoole, and a design team to interpret, theme, and present this phenomenal collection, comprising some 100,000 items, in an accessible manner that will appeal to young and old alike.
The Jackie Clarke Collection comprises three elements – the exhibition centre, the repository, and the adjoining walled heritage garden.
The Jackie Clarke Collection will be officially opened by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a future date. As of April 2 it will be open to the public on a full time basis between 10am and 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday. Admission is free. School and group tours are welcome. For booking telephone 096 73508 or visit the website www.clarkecollection.ie for more information.