Cloughaneely Heritage in 10 items

Inspired by the hugely successful ‘A History of Ireland in 100 Objects’ project developed by the Royal Irish Academy and the Irish Times, National Heritage Week presents a new initiative for National Heritage Week 2013:

‘Our Heritage in 10 Items’

The items in this collection have been brought together to tell a story about the heritage of Cloughaneely. These items were donated by people from the area. We are very grateful for their generosity.

Butter Making

Butter ChurnThe cream goes into the churn and the dasher is used to agitate the cream by moving it up and down and around and around. The cream in the churn breaks down and the fat bonds together to form butter. What’s left is buttermilk. The butter is taken out of the churn and is washed in order to remove the remaining buttermilk from the butter. This helps the preservation of the butter. The buttermilk is great for baking scones, pancakes and biscuits. Very cold water is poured over the butter. The water is pressed through the butter using the butter pats and the cloudy water is poured off. This is repeated until the water is no longer cloudy. The butter is ready to be salted. Salt helps with preservation also. The butter is moulded and stamped.

Selection of Irons

IronsFlat irons, a box iron and a gas powered iron. The flat irons were placed on the range to heat up. The box iron had a metal slug which was placed in the fire to heat up and then placed in the iron. Two slugs would have been used, one was heating while the other was used inside the iron. The thick metal plate on the gas iron kept the heat away from the hand. All these irons were very heavy.

Spinning Wheel & Loom

SpinningWheelWool has been spun in Ireland since sheep were first introduced over 6000 years ago. Today, wool spinning is still carried out in Donegal. The loom was kindly lent by Brenda Hewitt, who spins and weaves in her studio in Falcarragh. Brenda Hewitt, Handweaver

Selection of Lamps

Paraffin lamps, Hurricane lamps and a Tilley lamp. When electricity came to Falcarragh, a local man took his tilley lamp outside and fired it into the midden. He’d had enough of it.

Bicycle & Carbide Lamp

Bicycle  with carbide lampLumps of calcium carbide were placed in the bottom chamber and water went into the top chamber which dripped down onto the carbide creating a gas which could then be lit.  The lamps could get quite hot.

A man on his way home was stopped by a Garda for having no light on his bicycle. The Guard placed his hand on the lamp. Unfortunately the flame had just gone out and the Guard burnt his hand on the red-hot lamp.

Farming tools


Currach, Skiff and Half-decker

Yawl, Half decker and Currach

CurrachThe currach from inisboffin was small enough for one man to be able to carry it to the water. Despite its small size this currach suited the rough seas and was very maneuverable. There is a four inch deep rubbing strake along the bottom. This gives the currach a better grip in the water and prevents damage to the skin when dragged over the stony shore.

The Yawl or Skiff was used up until the late 1960’s when it was replaced with the half-decker.  The Skiff had a four man crew with a sail, oars and later an engine. The nets were hauled by hand.

Wash basin, Jug and Chamber pot

WashBasinsBefore running water all washing was done at a wash-stand in the bedroom. The wash-stand would have included a jug, basin, a soap dish, shaving equipment and toothbrushes. The chamber pot was kept under the bed.


PandiesThe pots were made by the travelling tinsmiths who came to Cloughaneely. Their skills were very much in demand at the time.  The items they produced included cans, buckets, churns, lanterns and mugs.

Railway Timetable

Train times 1923 EnglishjpFalcarragh railway station opened on 9 March 1903. It was a 29-mile journey from Letterkenny to Falcarragh and another mile and a half to Cashelnagore station. Many people used the train to travel to fairs and festivals. People would travel from all parts of Donegal to the Falcarragh Festival in August. The railway closed in 1948 .