County Carlow Military Museum


I recently visited the County Carlow Military Museum. It is a museum dedicated to the military history of County Carlow and its people.

Is it worth visiting? Definitely YES – if someone’s interested in the history of the army and the history of weapons, then their interest  should be satisfied.

Carlow County Military Museum is located on the Athy Road in an old church on the grounds of St. Dympnas Hospital. It is a private museum run by a groups of volunteers. Many of them are local historians and some who are members of Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society who take great pride in their collection and preservation of military history locally. 


The museum is open each Sunday from March through to the end of November from 2 until 5pm. and is also on other days as announced on their social media platforms during the Summer months also and indeed they are open to giving guided tours for interested groups.

Admission prices are €2.50 for adults, children are €1.30 each and group rates are available on request; these are available outside of normal opening dates and times. Group tours can be facilitated outside of normal opening times and dates. Further information from +353 87 6904242 or e-mail 

County Carlow Military Museum was founded in 1995, and was originally based in the Carlow Town Hall, opening in 1996. The impetus for the Museum’s foundation was the death of local man and soldier Donie Cunnigham in a helicopter crash in 1995. The displays began with his uniform as a memorial, and the collections expanded from there. The Museum and its collections moved to the Church of St. Dympna’s Hospital in 2001. The Church itself dates from the 19th Century, and contains stained glass by German artist August Weckbecker.

County Carlow Military Museum offers a wide range of exhibits related to the military history of Carlow and local involvement in local, national and international conflicts. The oldest artefacts come from the late 18th century, and the latest from modern times. The Museum displays artefacts dating from the late 18th century to the present day and details of the history of the Irish Army, Reserve Defence Forces (formerly the F.C.A. which stands for An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil and were locally organised local defence forces with State recognition under auspices of Dept. of Defence), UN Peacekeeping, Carlow Militia, World Wars I & II, War of Independence and much more.

Many exhibits have been donated to the museum by the inhabitants of Carlow and their families from private collections.

One of the main attractions are the uniforms of the Irish Defence Force (apparently, you can even try them on), and volunteers put them on during the parade on St. Patrick’s Day.

One feature of the museum is the reconstruction of a World War One trench. Other features focus on Carlow soldiers in armies throughout the world along with armoured vehicle production in Carlow during World War 2.

Other objects featured pertain to different military corps with connections to Carlow, such as the Drums of the 8th Militia Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

A large proportion of the museum’s collections is given over to the Irish Defence Forces, with a number of uniforms displayed from the Defence Forces starting from the foundation of the State and ending with uniforms currently in use. There are also displays detailing Carlows’ involvement in the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War. The exhibitions also detail the Irish involvement in United Nations peacekeeping, on mission to Congo, Lebanon and Somalia.

A display has also been put together detailing Medieval Carlow, including reproduction suits of Medieval armour and arms. In 2013 a scale model of Carlow Castle was also unveiled as part of this display.

The museum also contains a display outlining Carlows’ involvement in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 featuring replica uniforms and weapons, along with original artifacts from the period, such as an original Brown Bess musket.

An unusual but novel addition to the museum is an original uniform that was used in the movie “Private Ryan” as carried by Tom Hanks; some local members of what is now the RDF (Reserve Defence Forces) would have obtained temporary employment in this feature film along with Braveheart.

The small County Carlow Military Museum is a hidden gem and holds far more than you expect upon approach. 

For all the above reasons I strongly encourage you to visit this fascinating historical resource.





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