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About the Collection

The Collection at Newry and Mourne Museum comprises an eclectic range of material reflecting the social, political and cultural history of the region from prehistory up to the early 21st century.

Artefacts include prehistoric flints, medieval sculpture, 19th and 20th century textiles and costumes, ceramics and glassware. Many of the artefacts highlight local commercial and industrial achievements and the region's rich maritime heritage.

Highlights include:

Medieval sculpture – a 11th - 12th century cross-carved stone from a possible early monastery at Newry, a section of 13th-century moulding and a 15th century carved female head from the medieval Cistercian abbey at Newry.

Carved stone head
Carved stone featuring the head of a lady with an heraldic animal
originally from a window or doorway in Newry Abbey (15th century)

Wren Map – map of Newry dating from 1761 by Matthew Wren

Gelston Clock - a longcase clock made c.1780 by John Gelston, a Newry clockmaker.

Decanters – examples of glassware made in Newry in the early 19th century.

Glass decanters
Glass decanters made in Newry (c1825 - 1840)

Textile Collection - robes of the Order of St. Patrick worn by the Third Earl of Kilmorey, an Irish National Foresters’ uniform, a World War I souvenir cloth and ladies and gentlemen’s attire.

Order of St Patrick robes
Order of St. Patrick Robes worn by the third
Earl of Kilmorey (c.1890)

Business and commercial items – includes scales dating from c.1900, used in Newry Post Office, and a wedding cake box from the Victoria Bakery.

Wooden box
Wooden box used to transport wedding cakes to
customers by The Victoria Bakery (mid 20th century)

Contemporary art – a series of six oil paintings by Jasper McKinney inspired by the Bagenal’s Castle Restoration Project and photomontages by Sean Hillen, which reflect The Troubles in Newry in the 1980s and 1990s.

Sister Faustina
Sister Faustina Appears in LondoNewry
(Miraculously Preventing the Illegal
Photography of Members the Security Forces),
photomontage by Sean Hillen, 1993

The Reside Collection – over 10,000 documents dating from 1715 to 1986 relating to local history. The Collection was built up by Major G.W, Reside, a local architect and engineer.

Dress belonging to Mrs Margaret Reside
Dresses belonging to Mrs Margaret Reside,
including the dress (on left) worn at her
wedding to Major G.W. Reside in 1947

Collecting Policy

The Museum collects material from Newry, south Armagh and south Down connected with the following themes:

  • Early Christian and medieval settlement in Newry and Mourne
  • Gaelic lords and English settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries
  • The emergence of Newry as a mercantile centre in the 18th century and the development of the Canal
  • Business and commercial life in Newry and its hinterland
  • Farming, fishing and folk traditions in Newry and Mourne
  • The arts, sport and leisure in the area
  • Modern experiences of life in Newry, south Armagh and south Down

Newry and Mourne Museum also collects material representing the following aspects of contemporary culture, social life and politics:

  • Social, economic and political change in Newry and its hinterland
  • Festivals and celebrations - including Newry Drama Festival, Newry Musical Feis and commemorative events
  • Sporting events and achievements
  • Work by artists and craftspeople with special relevance to aspects of local heritage
  • Material relating to the impact of national political developments on the district, including local elections, political demonstrations, peace-building initiatives and cross-border relationships

For more information see our leaflet, Donating Objects and Documents to Newry and Mourne Museum which is available on the Publications Page on this website.

Recent Acquisitions

The Museum Collection is constantly growing with the local donations from Newry, south Armagh and south Down which reflect the Collection Policy.

Important recent donations include:

  • A 1638 edition of the Holy Bible originally owned by the Barcroft family in Newry
  • A Commission of the Peace appointing John Cherry Nicholson, the last Chairman of the Newry Commissioners, as a Justice of the Peace in 1901

Other donations illustrate local commercial enterprise and industry in the area, such as:

  • A set of scales, dating from c.1900, which were used in Newry Post Office
  • A breadman’s jacket and various objects, documents and photographs from the Victoria Bakery

Brass scales
Brass scales used in Newry Post Office (c.1900)

Significant additions have also been made to our textile collection with the donation of:

  • A gentleman’s lounge suit and evening suit dating from the 1940s
  • An Ancient Order of Hibernians’ sash c.1900
  • A boy’s velvet jacket, dating from c.1880

With grant-aid support from the Northern Ireland Museums Council, the Museum has purchased a number of objects which represent important periods in local history in particular:

  • Five glass decanters made in a Newry glassworks in the early 19th century
  • A mid-20th century wedding cake box from the Victoria Bakery, the former occupiers of the museum building
Photomontages by Sean Hillen, who was born in Newry and is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary artists

Research and Education

The museum has a vibrant research programme, and has published articles on The Reside Collection, documented the effects of the decommissioning programme on the fishing community at Kilkeel and has researched local lace-making industries.

All these activities are supported by our constant work to improve the collection and enhance our understanding of local heritage. To meet our responsibility to care for these items to the best of our ability the museum is continually improving standards in collection care.

Our staff have specialist training in preventive conservation, environmental control, cleaning, storage and display methods, which will ensure our artefacts are preserved for many more generations. The museum has also developed a handling collection for educational work with school children and community groups.
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