After tooling around the Irish countryside, we've stumbled upon roadside wedge tombs. We've climbed crumbling castles beside modern villages. We've wandered ancient woods untamed by men now buried underfoot. To experience Ireland is to experience first hand the old world grasping the new. These places are magnificent, but seem hollow without the objects of everyday life that were the flesh of their bones.
You can see many of the objects of everyday life at The Hunt Museum in Limerick. It is the private collection of John and Gertrude Hunt. Two thousand pieces of art and antiquity, each hand selected based on craftsmanship, artistic merit, and quality of design. Stepping into the museum is like entering the home of these two expert archaeologist-artists; they devoted their lives to gathering the treasures of Ireland and now want to share them with you. The Hunts donated their collection to the people of Ireland, and they believed it should remain as one and in the Limerick region.
The rooms are set up to illustrate the evolution of objects across time. Looking closer at the objects, I see the stories inside them. The hand carved stone axe head is chipped from clearing the rugged lands for grazing. The bronze ring is an exquisite gift from a man to his love at the height of Celtic civilization. The massive iron cauldron used to simmer feasts was highly valued and often mended by the smith. Each object whispers the tale of its life and of the people who used it.
The Hunt collection includes art by Picasso, da Vinci, Yeats, and Renoir. The paintings by Irish artists describe the colors and forms of the everyday life. How did the countryside look, illuminated by sunlight long ago? What colors bloomed in the spring? The paintings are a window back in time.
The museum is located in the Custom House. The building is a superb example of 18th century architecture, built in the Palladian-style and designed by Italian architect Davis Duckart.
It is open Monday to Saturday from 10AM to 5PM and Sunday from 2PM to 5PM. For more information, visit www.huntmuseum.com.
Written by Liz O' Malley - Summer of Travel 2007