Pictured at the official opening of the temporary exhibition The Murmur of Bees at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, were Tiernan Gaffney, Curator, Irish Folklife Collection, NMI – Country Life, and Dr. Aidan O’Hanlon, Curator, Entomology, NMI - Natural History. Admission is free. Photo: Jason Clarke

Visit The Murmur of Bees at Mayo museum this Easter

BE sure to schedule in a visit to the National Museum of Ireland in Turlough over the Easter holidays to see the new temporary exhibition, The Murmur of Bees.

The exhibition explores the captivating influence of Irish bees on our culture and environment and features objects from the Natural History and Irish Folklife collections, dating from the 18th century to the present day. Celebrate the magic of Ireland’s bees, their vital role in nature, and the special bond they share with us.

Admission is free and no booking is required.

Here are six highlights to discover as part of this exciting exhibition:

Harry Clarke’s St. Gobnait

See an exquisitely detailed and delicate drawing of Saint Gobnait by renowned Irish artist Harry Clarke. The artwork is on loan from the Corning Museum of Glass, NY, and was the template for what is one of Clarke’s most celebrated stained-glass windows, depicting St. Gobnait in the Honan Chapel, Cork City.

This is a rare opportunity to see a Harry Clarke drawing up-close.

Unusual world of Irish bees

Learn about the fascinating and unusual world of Irish bees. The Natural History material includes examples of every bee species in Ireland, as well as bees and other insect species from around the world.

Learn about the differences between honeybees, bumblebees, and an astonishing diversity of solitary bees - you might be surprised to realise how many species are found in Ireland.

Peek inside

A specially commissioned diorama of the inside of a hive provides visitors with a unique insight into the highly organised and structured world inhabited by bees. The life of the industrious honeybee is displayed alongside preserved nests of less-familiar solitary bees, bumblebees and other social insect species.


The folklife material on display includes a selection of skeps - conical straw beehive structure which were used before wooden hives. Harvesting honey meant burning the skeps and harming the bees. Wooden beehives became popular for beekeeping as they allowed for honey extraction without hurting the bees - a smarter and kinder approach!

Carrickmacross lace

Visitors can also see some material from the Museum’s Decorative Arts Collection, including an intricate lace collar decorated with bees, made at Saint Louis Convent, Carrrickmacross. It won second place at the Royal Dublin Society Art Industries Exhibition in 1912.

Irish lace was often made by women living in poverty as a way of supporting their family.

‘Gobnait’s Measure’

Learn about St. Gobnait and her church in Ballyvourney, where a 13th century wooden statue of the saint is taken out on her feast day (February 11) and on Whit Sunday. It is used to take ‘Gobnait’s Measure’ - a long tradition that involves using a set of ribbons to measure the statue accompanied with a prayer. The ribbons are said to have healing properties.

Also on display is a selection of stories about the saint collected by schoolchildren for the Irish Folklore Commission from 1937 to 1939.