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Sun Shines at Harry Kelly’s 70th Anniversary Celebration 28 August 2008

The Bank Holiday weekend may have been generally wet but the sun made a very welcome appearance for the 70th anniversary celebrations at the National Folk Museum at Cregneash which was attended by over 720 people on Sunday.

70th AnniversaryThere were a wide variety of things for the whole family to see and do throughout the day, which marked the 70th anniversary of the opening of Harry Kelly’s cottage to the public and the creation of the first open-air folk museum in Britain in 1938.

Yvonne Cresswell, Manx National Heritage Curator for Social History said:

“There was fun to be had for all the family, visitors could watch the blacksmith and joiner hard at work, see wool and flax spinning and see how traditional Manx patchwork quilts and sun bonnets were made”.

The event provided a wonderful opportunity for visitors to try their hand at Manx rural crafts including making a traditional rattle with rushes known as a ‘bumbee’ cage, learning how ferrets were used to catch rabbits for the pot and seeing the wide variety of rural skills that would have been practiced in the past.

Younger visitors (and the young at heart) were invited to join in making decorations and furnishings for the inside of a model of Harry Kelly’s cottage with some interesting results! Visitors could enjoy the aroma of various Manx dishes being prepared in the cottage and farmhouse at Church Farm and see butter being made in the farmhouse dairy throughout the day. Yvonne continued:

The 70th anniversary celebrations provided an opportunity for visitors to find out about Harry Kelly and his typical Manx crofter’s home. At the opening of Harry Kelly’s cottage to the public in 1938, one of the speeches recorded how important and, at the time, how unusual the cottage would have been as a Museum display:

“We are not opening the palace of a King, or the house of a great warrior – it is simply the home of one our people (Harry Kelly).”

The various crafts being demonstrated around the village reflected the theme of ‘Home is…’ and as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations, there is a display in the Church Farm Barn about Harry Kelly and his life in Cregneash. In addition the public were asked to make models of their favourite room in miniature and to tell the story associated with it. These now form a display in the barn at Cregneash entitled “Home is…” Some of the “rooms in a shoe-box” are real places, while others are pure fantasy. Visitors were invited to vote for their favourite “Room in a Shoe Box” at Sunday’s event. The winning entry will be displayed at the Manx Museum.

Throughout the warm afternoon, visitors were also able to enjoy a programme of Manx music and dance performed by dance group, Peree Bane and local Manx musicians.

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