Farming Food and Famine

These items represent our Farming Food and  section of the Fermanagh 100

1. Workhouse Shoes

Fermanagh County Museum

This collection of boots and shoes has been chosen to represent the story of the workhouse in Fermanagh. Provenance suggests that the shoes were found in an attic of one of the workhouse buildings. The building was demolished to make way for the new Erne hospital. The collection comprises 15 shoes in total, none make a pair.


Workhouse Shoes ©Fermanagh County Museum

Commissioned Researcher: Catherine Scott

2. Famine Memorial

In situ

The famine/workhouse graveyards are memorialised in County Fermanagh. The site at Cornagrade was chosen to reflect the harrowing story of the workhouses in the county. The memorial is a It was erected in 1996 as a Famine Memorial on the site of the Pauper’s Graveyard at Cornagrade.

Cornagrade Famine Memorial

Cornagrade Famine Memorial

Commissioned Researcher: John Cunningham

3. Fermanagh Hearth sketch by Johnny McKeagney

Fermanagh County Museum

The Johnny McKeagney collection is part of an ongoing project at Fermanagh County Museum, which aims to highlight the rural and indigenous tradition of the people of Fermanagh.  McKeagney collected and sketched the lives of the people of Fermanagh. This sketch of the Hearth is an intricate piece which tells the story of the place of the hearth in the house.

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Johnny McKeagney Sketch (Featured InTheOuldAgoPages135)

Commissioned Researcher: Louise Rice

4. Pardog/Bardog Creels

Fermanagh County Museum

Bardogs are large baskets, or creels, which were hung on the sides of a donkey or small pony, and used for carrying turf, or more usually manure such as animal dung, for spreading on land as fertiliser. The term bardog indicates a special feature of the creels: the bottom of the bardog is hinged and can be opened by pulling a stick.

Bardog Creel

Bardog/Pardog Creel. ©Fermanagh County Museum

Commissioned Researcher: Jonathan Bell & Mervyn Watson

5. McMahon Spade

Fermanagh County Museum

The spade was the most important tillage implement on small Irish farms for many centuries. The McMahon spade mill produced more than one hundred different patterns of spade for farmers in south west Ulster and north Connacht, but these have merged in popular memory into one type, the McMahon spade. Even today the spade is still remembered with affection. McMahon’s spade mill continued to produce spades well into the twentieth century.

Spade Small 2

Mc Mahon Spade. ©Fermanagh County Museum

Commissioned Researcher: Jonathan Bell & Mervyn Watson

6. Eel Trap

Fermanagh County Museum

Eel trapping in County Fermanagh was an important industry. Fishing rights were given to many of the locals who lived near the water edge. This in turn meant that eels became an important part of people’s diet. In recent years eel fishing has been banned on the Erne to allow to for the stocks to replenish.

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Eel Trap ©Fermanagh County Museum

7. Glassie drawing of different hearths /Vernacular Architecture

Fermanagh County Museum

Vernacular architecture is an important aspect of Fermanagh’s history. With the decline in vernacular architecture and the destruction and ruin of the majority of these structures in Fermanagh it was important to share this story. The Henry Glassie sketches are a fantastic example of the different styles of architecture.

Clearys Hearth

Cleary’s Hearth by Henry Glassie. ©Fermanagh County Museum

8. The Archdale Silver Salver

Archdale Collection

The Archdale waiter or silver salver, weighing 53 oz 16dw, was made to receive 38 medals won by Nicholas M. Archdall Esq for success in classes for livestock at Fermanagh Farming Society agricultural shows. It also contains medals won by him in ploughing competitions run by Fermanagh Farming Society and also by Enniskillen and Irvinestown Union Farmers’ Club.

Silver Salver

Archdale Silver Salver ©Fermanagh County Museum

Commissioned Researcher: Sam Morrow

9. The Ferguson Tractor

Private Ownership

The Ferguson TE 20 tractor is very significant in the development of agriculture in the twentieth century in County Fermanagh. The Ferguson TE 20, which was first manufactured in 1946, was the culmination of a prolonged development process undertaken by Harry Ferguson, the son of a County Down farmer.

Ferguson tractor

Ferguson TE 20 tractor.

Commissioned Researcher: Sam Morrow

10. Fly Fishing

Fermanagh County Museum

Fly fishing was an important aspect of Fermanagh life. With the Erne providing a bountiful supply of fish the skill of fishing became both a mode of emplyment and a popular passtime. Fly fishing is an interesting method of fishing and is one that still prominent today.

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Framed Fishing Flies ©Fermanagh County Museum