Formed in the early 1990’s, the Society felt it important to capture the rich culture and heritage of Claregalway’s rural parish history and traditions. With the growing urbanisation of Claregalway, its unique history could be very easily forgotten or lost. The museum want create and preserve a kind of legacy for future generations.
The Society brought out ‘Claregalway Parish History 750 years’ in 1999. This book covers about 750 years of local history, beginning around the year 1250 up until the late 1990’s, with the foundation of the Franciscan Friary by the River Clare. There are many ancient ruins in the parish, such as the De Burgo castle and the Nine Arch Bridge. Both are mentioned in old documents, books, articles and newspaper cuttings. The ‘Parish History’ includes details of the church, its many parish priests and of the schools and education throughout the years. The culture and folklore section in the book captures old sayings and traditions, old ways of doing things and attempts to paint a picture of the way people lived.
In 2002, following from the success of their first book, a second book was brought out which captures in a more pictorial form the Claregalway of the past. These books are still very popular and continue to be purchased.
In 2006 the committee was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity, by the kind permission of the Smyth and Glynn families, to restore the old Blacksmith forge in Rooaunmore, and to make it available for public display. Owned by the Smyth family for many generations, Michael Smyth was the last blacksmith to work there into the 1990’s. Their newly built Museum, built beside the forge, opened its doors in September 2014. The Committee has been busy since putting together artifacts from the past, with donations from local people, to bring to light the great heritage, for all to appreciate.