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Information on National Museum of Ireland objects can be found in the Documentation Discoveries section of our website
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Powder Flask F:1956.166


A pear-shaped gunpowder container made of brass. The total length of the flask is 19cm and it is 9cm in width at its widest point and 3.5cm thick.
A spout for pouring the gun powder projects from the centre of the cylindrical neck. The flask is decorated on both sides in the same repoussé design. At the top is a sitting hound and below is a heard of deer with two birds in the foreground.


The neck of the flask is 2.3cm long and 3.8cm in diameter. It incorporates a shutter for closing the orifice which is operated by a small lever at the side. The projecting spout in 2cm long and 1.5cm in diameter. It has a movable sleeve which has three positions to provide three different measures of gun powder. This object is from Burren, Co. Clare.

Watch Pocket F:1966.352

A delicate crocheted watch pocket, made out of white and yellow cotton yarn. The piece is semi-circular in shape, 12.5 cm in diameter. The central portion is fashioned into a small pocket or pouch, while the circumference is made up of stitched crochet ornamentation. This pouch from the Dublin area was designed to hold a small pocket watch.


Horsehair Fishing Line F:1949.7

An example of horsehair fishing line material showing the method of manufacture. The line is made from two lengths of horsehair, each separate length comprised of roughly 15 individual hairs. Two pieces of goose quill (4cm long) were used with the horsehair to enable the separate strands to be worked easily. This resulted in the strands being twisted so that when the end of the line was released, they twisted on each other.

This particular example of horsehair line was used for fishing on the Orlar Lakes in County Mayo, before the advent of factory made line.

Horsehair, quills and finished fishing line.

Horsehair, quills and finished fishing line.

Shoemaker’s Lap Stone F:1949.64

This stone was held in the lap of the shoemaker and used for hammering leather. The stone has a width of 23cm, is 20cm in length and has a height of 4.5cm.

There are three large and three small depressions on one surface. The larger ones were used for shaping heel tips and half tips. The other side of the stone has a groove for sharpening awls.

This object is from Clonakilty, Co. Cork.


Corn Rick Ornament F:1950.457

A spherical wooden top once painted with red lead measuring 6cm long on an iron wire 23.5cm long though it was originally three times that length.

Every year when the corn stack was made and thatched to keep it secure until the spring threshing this ornament was stuck into the peak of the stack to finish it off.

This ornament is from Lusk, Co. Dublin and was in use in the early 1900s.


Diptych Sundial F:1965.1087

This sundial is known as a diptych sundial as it consists of two slate faces at right angles to one another with a gnomon (the part of the dial that casts a shadow) joining the centre of the two faces. The slates are set in a wooden frame and measure 22cm in diameter each. Two inscriptions on this slate read Meridian Line 1839 By Patrick Farrelly Oct II and Evylin Shirly Esq & & Shirly Castle.

This sundial has a considerable amount of intricate inscription known as dial furniture on both slates which includes the Sun’s place in the Ecliptic (the ecliptic being the path of the sun in the sky).

This sundial is from Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan.

Diptych Sundial

Tally or Goffering Iron F:1995.28

A smith-made tally iron also known as a goffering iron. Goffering is the pressing of narrow pleats and frills. The iron consists of a bullet shaped tube mounted on a stem coiled into an elaborate spiral design which stands on a tripod. The legs of the tripod end in lozenge-shaped feet and have their upper ends united in a rectangular expansion below the spiral.

Tally irons were used mostly to iron bows, cap string or other delicate pieces. An iron poker was heated over a flame and this was inserted into the bullet shaped tube of the iron. The heated barrel was then used to press the fabric.

The iron measures 23cm in height and 17cm in width across its feet, the spiral has a maximum width of 10.5cm.

Tally Iron

Ember Tongs F:1971.202

One of a pair of unusual brass ember tongs. The hinged tongs was used by placing the index and middle fingers in the fixtures on one side of the tongs and the thumb in the other side. A row of teeth at the mouth of the tongs on both sides gripped the embers.

These tongs were used to hold half burnt turf embers known in Irish as gríosach. The burning turf was spread on the lid of a cast iron cooking pot suspended over an open fire and was also used for lighting smoking pipes. This object was also known as a greesh holder and is 16.5cm long. No known provenance.



Shell Fog Horn F:1935.151

A sea shell used as a fog horn by fishermen in the district of Baile na nGall, Co. Waterford. The shell measures approximately 20 cm in length and 18 cm in width. It was blown through the hole in the end; such horns have not been used since the end of the 19th century. It is known as a guagán in Irish.


November 2018
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