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Waterford accommodates Ireland’s first museum of clocks

Waterford accommodates Ireland’s first museum of clocks

The collection of 600 items features the oldest Irish timepieces and horological marvels from all over the world

Who would dare to question the right of Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city (named Veðrafjǫrðr by its Viking founding fathers way back in 914 A.D) to house the first Museum of Time in the country? Time for objections is up, anyway, since the clock museum opened doors yesterday in a refurbished church at Greyfriars, in the port city’s Viking Triangle.

600 clocks in one place

The Museum of the Science and Story of Time, as it is officially called, boasts a collection of 600 items spreading over two floors and featuring the oldest Irish clocks, as well as timepieces from Austria, France, Switzerland, the US, UK and Japan. The earliest European pieces date to about 1560 but there are also exhibits from later ages to the present day.

Such a concentrated cornucopia would not have been possible without the donations from David Boles and Colman Curran, two of Ireland’s most prolific horologists, who have found that their private acquisitions, gathering dust in attics and cellars, would be best enjoyed by the public in a single museum setting.

Clock without a face

Among the highlights of the museum collection is a massive brass two-train turret clock with a back plate bearing the date 1764, the crest of the Dukes of Portland and the name of John Arnold of Child-Ockford, Dorset, England.

Named for the clock towers which housed them in church belfries or specially built structures, turret clocks were the first kind of timepieces to appear in Ireland. These Medieval clocks didn’t even have faces and told the time by the chiming of bells.

Viking Triangle

Waterford's Viking Triangle is the only "museum quarter" in the country, claims Eamonn McEneaney, director of the Waterford Museum of Treasures. With the addition of the Museum of Time, there are now five museums in the area.

"In our museums we've concentrated not just on the history of Ireland's oldest city, but also on the history of glass-making, craftsmanship, the history of Irish silver-making from the Vikings right up to the 20th century, and here the history of timepiece making," McEneaney told RTÉ.

He is confident that the new museum will become a must-visit attraction for people of all ages and vocations. The young would come here drawn by their interest in technology; horological enthusiasts would want to know exactly what makes these clocks tick and some people would be intrigued by the clock-makers’ craftsmanship and adherence to fashion trends.

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