Explore Sligo Folk Park

We invite you is to come and explore Sligo Folk Park. Discover for yourself the treasures that are waiting here for you. The best way is using our audio guided tour, introducing you to all the different exhibits and displays. Let us bring the past to life for you.

Below is an introduction to some of our most popular exhibits.

Millview House

This fine two-storey stone-built house was built in the 18th century and was known locally as Ryan’s House after the last family to live there. The rooms display a combination of furniture and household items from the era, some of which are original to the house. We have accumulated a fascinating tapestry of stories and insights into the families who lived here and the house itself.

The Street

This recreated streetscape is like walking through a village a hundred years ago, with life size shop fronts on either side. These shops and services were typical of Riverstown or any other small Irish village. Some are actual shops that were in this village, and some are from other parts of Sligo. They all contain authentic objects of their time, both in the windows and above the display. In the days before cars and motorised transport, people didn’t travel as much or as far from home. The village and village shops were places to meet and exchange news, as well as do shopping. The Street shopfronts include Riverstown Creamery, JJ O’Gara Bicycle Store, Baker’s Butchers Shop, Sleator’s Shoe Shop, Conlon’s and Taheny’s Grocery Shops, The Riverbrook Inn, Bellew Brothers, the Post Office, McKim’s Drapery, Boyd’s Chemist, The Sligo Champion and the ESB. Also on display are an old telephone kiosk and on-street petrol pumps which were once commonplace.

The McGee Building


The McGee building includes a diverse selection of items from the McGee Collection. The Hands Exhibition is named after the RTE television series on the craft skills of Ireland. David and Sally Shaw-Smith filmed the series around 1980, when these items were still in everyday use. The films playing in the Hands exhibition feature many of the items also on display.  In the first section of the Hands exhibition, you will see typical tasks of most rural homes from times past, such as making baskets, weaving furniture from straw, making fresh farmhouse butter and bee-keeping. The middle section includes sheep being shorn, their wool washed, combed and spun into balls of yarn, lichen scraped off rocks and boiled into natural dyes, yarns being hand woven into rolls of tweed and the bespoke tailoring of a gentleman’s suit. The final section features the water mill and machines for ploughing, sowing, reaping, threshing, grading and grinding crops, which ultimately transformed Irish farming.

Mrs Buckley’s Thatched Cottage

Mrs Buckley’s Cottage is a reproduction thatched cottage, the type that would have been commonplace around Riverstown in the 1800s. It’s celebrated as “The Worlds Most Travelled Cottage” and was built at Sligo Folk Park in 1994. It’s first outing was in New York for the Beat on the Peat festival at Yonkers. Since then, it has travelled to many festivals all over the Ireland but is now in its final resting place here in the Folk Park. This little cottage has been visited by two Presidents of Ireland Mary Robinson and Mary Mc Aleese, as well as Jean Kennedy Smith of the famous Kennedy family, when she was American Ambassador to Ireland.

The Dairy House

The introduction of creameries transformed life for rural communities and played a significant part in developing farm businesses. The first creamery in Riverstown was opened in 1897 and in its heyday Riverstown Co-op had seven branches and 1500 suppliers. These displays introduce the rural creamery as well as wooden churns, ceramic crocks and other items related to milk and butter production.

Irwin House

Irwin House holds three different displays. The first tells the story of the Irwin family from Riverstown, woven into the greater story of emigration and new frontiers. The second room features the works of local poet Patrick Higgins. In the back room is a typical 1950s schoolroom with old wooden desks, a blackboard on an easel and the slates which every child used. Even the canes and sticks used for punishment are on view. Outside the door is an old millstone used for grinding corn.

Kilkenny Forge

When horses and donkeys were the main mode of transport the forge was a very important part of every community. Our Blacksmith’s Forge is an accurate recreation of one built in Riverstown by local blacksmith James Kilkenny in 1940. All the implements a working forge needed are on display like the hammers, the heavy anvil and the massive bellows. James Kilkenny also made and repaired farm tools and decorative items like gates and crooks for household pots. He was especially well known for making turf spades or loys.

Emily Barlow

Emily Barlow, the daughter of John and Margaret Barlow from Riverstown, drowned when the RMS Leinster was torpedoed by a German submarine on 10 October 1918.  Ireland’s greatest maritime disaster cost the lives of over 500 people outside Dublin Bay, 4 nautical miles east of the Kish lighthouse. Emily is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery in Dun Laoghaire.