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Sunday, 31 July 2011

THE MARITIME AND HERITAGE CENTRE, KILLYBEGS

The Martime and Heritage Centre is based in what was the world famous Killybegs Hand-Knotted Carpet Factory. In it’s time the factory, which was established in 1898, supplied carpets to some of the most famous buildings in the world including amongst many more The White House (home to the President of the USA), Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle (homes of Queen Elizabeth II UK), 10 Downing Street (London, UK, official residence of the British Prime Minister), and Aras an Uachtarain (official residence of the President of Ireland).

In the factory you can see the longest hand-knotting loom in the world. Made of Canadian pitch pine it is 42 feet long and weighs four ton. On this loom a number of weavers would sit in a row working on carpets of up to 40′ wide.


The centre offers an audio visual display on the history of the factory with lots of old film showing the workers of the time and the extremely arduous task making these carpets was.

Later you can visit the floor of the factory and see a live demonstration of hand-knotting and even have a go yourself. There are samples of the weavers skills to be seen all around the factory including a carpet depicting St. Mary's (R.C.) Church in Killybegs which was made to celebrate it’s centenary.

There are photographs of the making of the carpet for the hall of Aras an Uachtarain which replaced an earlier one made by the same factory. One of the demonstrators in the centre was one of the ladies who made this carpet and she can tell you all about how it was done. You can also see lots of samples of the intricate patters that had to be drawn by hand as guides for the weavers.

MARINE SIMULATOR

The marine simulator
 Later you can visit the Marine Simulator which is in the centre too. Here you can take the chance to experience steering a ‘virtual’ trawler around Killybegs harbour and out to sea or even ‘rescuing’ a man overboard as cox wain of the Killybegs lifeboat. The Simulator can be set to change the ‘conditions’ from good weather to extremely bad weather and you are given an option of ‘tasks’ to carry out as captain. It’s a very real experience and with the trawler or boat dipping up and down in swollen seas in front of you it’s also great fun for both adults and children and I guarantee you will want more than one attempt.

WELCOMING STAFF

The staff at the Maritime and Heritage Centre, Killybegs
In the reception area of the centre there is a small cafe and lots of information leaflets about the area. There is also internet access available on a number of computers set up there. You can even buy some little gifts whilst there including such things as a locally hand made soap. The staff are welcoming, friendly and very knowledgeable, making the visit a joy.

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