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Launch of Farming and Country Life 1916 – Director's Speech

04 March 2016

Cathaoirleach Peter Roche, Members of Galway County Council, Professor Gearoid O Tuaithaigh, distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, it is my great privilege as Director of Teagasc to welcome you to the Launch of the Farm and Country Life 1916. This will be a two day event which will take place on June 10th and 11th. The commemoration of the Centenary of the 1916 rising is very important and this event will focus on Farming and Country Life at the time of the Rising in 1916.

Farming and Country Life 1916 is an event which is very different and more challenging than our more normal open days that we regularly organize. Hopefully tonight’s launch will give you a flavour of what the event will be like. We believe the event will appeal to a wide audience from children to grandparents, urban and rural, farm families, schools, the Diaspora and visitors to our country.

Aim of the Event

The event seeks to commemorate the Easter Rising and to reflect on developments in farming and country life across Ireland over the last century.

Event Organizers

The event is being organized by Teagasc in partnership with Galway County Council. A large number of farming, rural, community and voluntary, local and national organizations will be participating in the event including IFA, GAA, National Ploughing Association, UCD and the ICA, the Museum of Country Life, the Agricultural Museum in Johnstown Castle, The GAA Museum, the Department of Folklore in UCD and with many local heritage and historical societies.

About the Event

This event will form part of the official 1916 rising commemorations and will reflect on an important part of life in Ireland at the beginning of the last century. The event will be high quality educational, authentic and will accurately retell the story of local 1916 military events and Farming and Country Life of the era. It is planned to showcase a significant number of interactive exhibits, dramatic re-enactments, lectures, and reconstructions.

There will be a series of highly interactive villages that will explore all aspects of farming and country life in Ireland 100 years ago and will chart the major developments in the first half of the 20th century. The event is being organized along 7 thematic villages:

  • Ireland 1916 (The 1916 Rising)
  • Farm Family and Rural Life
  • The Land
  • Education and Co-operation
  • Mechanization of Farming
  • Livestock
  • Sporting and Cultural Life

Target Audience

This National event will appeal to a wide audience from children to grandparents, urban and rural, farm families, schools, the Diaspora and visitors to our country. We expect an attendance of 50,000 people over the two days which will make this the largest 1916 commemoration outside of Dublin.


The Rising in County Galway will be the central theme of the event. The fact that Liam Mellows and some 500 volunteers camped at the Agricultural College Farmyard during the Rising gives the Centenary celebrations added significance.

Farming and Country Life has changed utterly over the past century. The event will attempt to recreate Rural Life as it was in 1916.

Artistic Direction

We are fortunate to have the expertise of Marie Mannion, County Heritage Officer, and key people from Museum of Country Life, Johnstown Castle Agricultural Museum, Athenry Heritage Centre together with our Artistic Director Michael Somers.

Creating the atmosphere of the Event

The Time Tunnel

From the very start as people enter the Campus, they should experience the sense of arrival and “stepping back in time”.
The Railway Tunnel at the entrance to the “Town” requires the “WOW” factor. As visitors approach the Tunnel, they will see a large Clock above the entrance, going backwards and an accompanying sound recording “tock, tick” to emphasize that visitors are travelling back in time.
As visitor traverse the tunnel, it is envisaged that there will be a series of posters which reflect the events / products / people of the time

The 1916 Town

Our plan is to recreate the atmosphere of a 1916 Rural Town. This will involve feasibly disguising the Farm Buildings to provide the visitor with the experience of walking down the street of a rural town in 1916. The Market Square is the central hub of the event – Stage, launch of the event, Regular Re-enactments, street performances and speeches. In addition there will be two Streets – Clarke Street and Barrack Street opening on to the Square with a suitably presented Streetscape.

Drama, Actors and Re-enactments

We plan to recreate the atmosphere of 1916 – through trained actors from local Drama Groups, suitably attired to provide the ambience and welcome – including Policemen, Soldiers and Volunteers. The event will provide a great learning opportunity for people of all ages.

Information on the rising and on farming and country life at the time will be presented in a variety of ways. There will be re-enactments, lectures and debates about issues of the time. Our aim is to provide an unforgettable experience with a surprise around every corner.

1916 Farm, Farmhouse and out houses

We will recreate a typical farm, farmhouse and farmyard of the time, with livestock, farmyard enterprises, crops and haymaking. The horse was the most important animal and we will have a major exhibit of the working horse. We will recreate the farmhouse and have a major focus on the role of women on the farm. We will recreate the traditional crafts of the era – including blacksmith, cooper, wheel right, thatching and many others.

Bringing Villages alive with activity, re-enactments and interaction

It is essential that each of the seven proposed Villages are “alive” with activity. The overall event will need to be as interactive as possible. We will re-enact a typical national school of the period. Getting children actively involved by having imaginative competitions and challenges throughout will be important. Villages will not be separate from each other – there will be a natural integration with music, dance, drama and lectures dispersed throughout the site.

Free Family Day out

The event will be marketed as a Free Family Day out with plenty of places for people to sit down, picnic areas and sandpits and children's games.

In Conclusion

In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, we are looking forward to a unique event in this the centenary of the Rising. This event is all about inclusivity and we would welcome the support of people, organizations and communities.