Contrast between fortunes of the Signal Tower and Kinsale Museum

August 29th, 2020 7:05 AM

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What a difference a year makes: This weekend in 2019, the Old Head Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum and Memorial Garden committee were hosting their fundraising lighthouse open days, which proved hugely popular. 

People were taken from the Signal Tower by shuttle bus to that fabulous lighthouse (walking there is not permitted due to safety regulations) and given an excellent explanation of its mechanisms and the opportunity to climb right up to the outside balcony. Shuttles ran throughout the day, all day, approximately every 15 minutes from the Signal Tower. 

All proceeds went to the continuing restoration and upkeep of the museums and new memorial garden and entry to the wonderful Signal Tower and Memorial Garden was free on the day!

The  success of the Signal Tower project and the Lusitania Memorial Garden is ongoing and in stark contrast to the lack of progress in expanding interest in the Kinsale Regional Museum. The Signal Tower employs a staff of three as well as the team of volunteers who have the centre open from 10am to 6pm. seven days per week. 

In Kinsale, there are no staff employed and the Museum is open only from 10.30am to 2.30pm from Tuesday to Saturday only, and this limited opening is only made possible by the work of a small band of volunteers. The Kinsale situation is also in stark contrast to the Michael Collins Museum in Clonakilty, funded by Cork County Council, with a staff of three, reported to have received funding close to one million euro.

The secret of the success of the Old Head centre seems to be the involvement of the local community, unlike the situation in Kinsale where the History Society claims to have ‘been totally excluded from having any input.’ This results of this policy are best seen in the Lusitania display with over 10 historical mistakes and omissions which still have not been corrected since the installation in 2015. 

The History Society was not involved or consulted in relation to that display in spite of numerous requests to be part of the commemorative process. Among a number of other errors is the photograph of what is claimed to be the Town Wall at Friar’s Gate which actually dates from the building of the Parish Church. 

There also seems to be a number of important items missing or no longer on display. Even the recently-installed audio visual unit on the Battle of Kinsale opens with the well-known drawing of the landing of James II in 1690 which the voice over claims is the landing of the Spanish in 1601!

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