The First Museum and the Library

About 1870, a school museum was created in St. Joseph’s by one of the Christian Brothers probably Br. Reddington, who was a very popular teacher and admired by pastpupils because he was deeply interested in the scientific study of language and education in order to make progress in the education of deaf students. There was also a library associated with the museum.

The museum consisted of twelve Victorian display cases containing a valuable and varied collection of objects. They included specimens of minerals and seashells, African and Native American implements preserved fruits and reptiles a collection of Roman, Medieval Irish English and other coins. and dozens of the small plaster medallions of emperors popes and bishops. The collection also included religious items some iron swords daggers and spears as well as an archive of old books and photographs. In addition, numerous glass cabinets displayed exotic stuffed birds and animals.

The museum and library were used as a resource centre for teaching and learning. Pupils attended lessons there and read in the library every weekend. The St. Josephs book of 1930 shows us the interior of a large exhibition case in the library with a collection of books stuffed animals and other items on display. In 1935 with funding from the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes new classrooms and a playhall were constructed on the west wing.

As a result the library was dismantled and the museum was moved to the north side of the building to be reinstalled in two rooms. It remained so until 1974 when the rooms were converted into a canteen for teachers. The two sections of the museum can be seen in an old architectural plan of St. Josephs dated to 1935.

Unfortunately the museum and its fascinating collection have now disappeared. The artefacts and specimens were wantonly destroyed thrown away given to other institutions or sold to dealers. This material was part of our Deaf Heritage and should have been preserved. We would have been proud to have it in our new centre. Other valuable items have disappeared too. These include some old furniture and school desks which we hoped to reserve for the museum. There was also a bronze bell which was located in the hall at the front entrance. lt mysteriously disappeared sometime in the 1990s. Although I made extensive enquiries I have not been able to discover what happened to it.


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