Dartfield Horse Museum and Park Has a New Website
Go to: www.dartfield.com/

For a number of years this was th official website of the Dartfield Horse Museum and Park.
Content is from the site's 2002 archived pages.

If you have inadvertently ended up here while searching for the Ireland's Horseworld, Museum and Equestrian Park in Kilreekill, Loughrea, Co. Galway, their current website is found at http://www.dartfield.com/




"Spend a day at Dartfield and discover an interest that could last a lifetime".

Dartfield Horse Museum and Park is a purpose built facility dedicated to telling the 5000 year old story of man's relationship with the horse.

The museum charts the history of the horse and its use from the earliest times to the present day. But Dartfield is not just another boring museum. There are live exhibits to delight everyone. Some of the world's favourite breeds of horses can be seen. From some of the biggest horses in the world - to the smallest.

Exhibits include farm machinery, carriages, harness and interesting artefacts from the horse world. There is an art gallery and library. Visitors can ride the mechanised horse. For younger visitors there are rocking horses and computer games. There are occasional demonstrations of horse-shoeing and the saddlers skill. Discover more about the horse with the Interactive touch screen computers. The Hall of Fame details some of Ireland's most famous equine superstars.

There is a café, serving snacks and a shop, selling unique horse related gifts. Dartfield is set in 350 acres of parkland. For no extra charge visitors can enjoy the walking tour, along safe level pathways and see cattle, deer, sheep and ponies. All of the family will enjoy a day at Dartfield.

The museum has facilities for the disabled. It is an ideal venue for coach parties and school tours.

Dartfield is set in 350 acres of parkland. For no extra charge visitors can enjoy the walking tour, along safe level pathways and see cattle, deer, sheep and ponies. Visitors will appreciate the chance to get away from it all and enjoy the peace and quiet of the surroundings on the walking trail.

Carriage and pony rides are available, these can be arranged by booking through the museum.

Live demonstrations of the horses at work will be shown regularly.


An aside: During a recent visit to my elderly mother who is in an assisted living Bel Air facility close to where I live in Maryland, we were organizing a box of photos to add to a new photo album I had brought with me. My mother is old school. She likes her photos printed and put into photo albums. One stack of photos was of our trip to Ireland in the summer of 2000 when my kids were in elementary school. They were in their "horse obsession" stage, so my folks made sure that we took a side trip to the Dartfield Horse Museum and Park. Talk about a "hit". My kids adored the exhibits and even convinced their father to ride the mechanised horse. Of course my parents had booked pony rides for the kids. I remember the peace and quiet of the surroundings on the walking trails where we could see cattle, deer, sheep and ponies. What a lovely afternoon I spent with my mother pouring over these photos. We then took a stroll in the park-like grounds of the Hart Heritage Estates home for seniors in Forest Hill, taking a break at the gazebo that over looks a pond. Everytime I visit my mother I feel so relieved that I was able to find a safe and caring supported living facility for her.



The Museum



The exhibits:

The first gallery is dedicated to the history of the horse. There are life size displays of the first horses, showing what the equines were like millions of years ago. Colourful graphic panels display information about the evolution of the horse, its use through history and how the different breeds developed. Also in the gallery are farm machinery and carriages which will give visitors an insight into the vital role played by the horse through history. Amongst the carriages and harness exhibited is a brougham, which was once the property of Lillie Langtry.

The second gallery houses the internal stables. Here visitors can see at close quarters the native Irish horses and ponies as well as other breeds from around the world. Visitors are welcome to try their skills on the mechanical horse at the end of the gallery.

The old stables are in a building adjacent to these galleries. These are the original stalls, which would have housed horses from Dartfield house. Gallery three has a veterinary display, which uses authentic horse limbs to demonstrate a fascinating array of horse diseases and injuries. The gallery also houses life size show jumps.

Upstairs in gallery number four is an art gallery with a visually stunning selection of equine paintings and prints. Following on from this is a library which houses a good selection of old books on a wide range of subjects. The Galway Blazers room details the history of the famous hunt and shows the clothes worn by the hunts people.

Downstairs is a display showing the work of the blacksmith and the saddler.
In the AV room a short video presentation will educate and entertain visitors. For younger visitors there are computer games to play and rocking horses to ride.

Dartfield is set in 350 acres of parkland. For no extra charge visitors can enjoy the walking tour, along safe level pathways and see cattle, deer, sheep and ponies. All of the family will enjoy a day at Dartfield.

Gift shop and cafe. There is a café, serving snacks and a shop, which sells unique horse related gifts. These are open for the same hours as the museum complex. The café can easily cater for large groups. However pre-booking is advised.

Irish Horse Museum







Interesting horse facts

The oldest recorded age for a Thoroughbred racehorse is 42, set by an Australian gelding called Tango Duke. He was foaled in 1935 and died in 1978.

In 1865 Gladiator a French bred Thoroughbred became the first horse to win the English Triple Crown - The 2,000 Guineas, The Derby and The St. Leger and the French Derby, a record that remains unbeaten.

There was an old belief that the skull of a horse could enhance sound. They were laid under the floor of houses in the belief that they would improve the tone of a piano that stood above them.

Horse brasses were fitted to cart horse harness in the belief that they would protect the animal from the evil eye.

If you break a mirror, the seven years bad luck can be averted by leading a horse through the house.

Grey horses were always considered lucky which is why they are often used to pull wedding carriages.

Riding whips were often made of wood from a rowan tree, this was supposed to protect the horse from the spells of a witch.

The tallest living horse is a Shire gelding, born in 1984, which stands 19.2 hands high.

The world's smallest horse is the Fallabella, named after the family that developed it. These have been as small as 14 inches high.



Dartfield Horse Museum and Park is a world away from traditional school tours. Forget about leading bored children around a hall full of dusty exhibits. Our school visits are designed specifically to educate, stimulate and fascinate children of all ages.

The Education Department at Dartfield work alongside the school curriculum to ensure that schools have maximum learning opportunities alongside value for money within a safe environment.

The programmes at Dartfield ensure active learning and maximise the opportunities for pupil participation. All are specifically designed to fit in with the school curriculum. Programmes develop thinking, learning, social and communication skills, all within a safe and stimulating environment, making learning an enjoyable experience. Work charts are available to schools to be completed both before and after a visit to ensure that the maximum benefit is gained from Dartfield.

Teachers are welcome to visit the museum at any time to discuss our programmes and see the facilities. We offer an extensive range of educational programmes, but are always happy to devise a programme to teacher's specifications.

Price includes - fully supervised educational programme, all equipment, snack meal and drink, free place for accompanying adults. For more details please contact the museum.



Students at Equine Colleges will be fascinated by a visit to Dartfield Horse Museum and Park.

Dartfield is the first museum of its kind in the world. It deals specifically with the Irish horse and its 5000 year relationship with man.

In order to appreciate the animal that pupils are studying it is essential to be familiar with its background. The performance horse of today had its origins in the humble farmyard. Displays within the museum chart the development of the different Irish breeds. Within the museum complex there are live examples of the Irish breeds, as well as other examples of the worlds favourite breeds. There is also a library, art gallery and occasional demonstrations of the saddler and blacksmith's skills. Plus veterinary exhibits, carriages, farm machinery, harness and artefacts from almost every branch of equestrianism. An AV room has an educational video and is available for lectures and discussion.

The Education Department at the museum offers a full range of courses dealing with the history of the Irish horse and the origins of the breeds, which will be of great interest to students.

For groups of students wishing to visit the museum the price includes - educational programme, snack meal and free place for accompanying teacher. For more details please contactthe museum.



Frequently asked questions

1. When is the museum open?
The museum is open 7 days per week all year around. The opening hours are 9am - 6 pm.

2. How do I get to the museum?
The museum is located at Loughrea on the N6, the Dublin to Galway road, 4 miles east of Loughrea.

3. Are there disabled facilities?
Yes, the museum has disabled access and toilet facilities. Staff are available should assistance be required.

4.One of our party is not interested in horses, will they enjoy the visit?
Yes, there is plenty to interest everyone. Inside the museum are exhibits which give information about Ireland's rich heritage. Outside there are walks which may be enjoyed free of charge.

5. Does the museum have toilet and car parking facilities?

6 I am a teacher. Does the museum cater for school tours.
Yes. The museum offers a comprehensive programme for school children of all ages. The programme gives pupils the opportunity to learn about their heritage and the environment in an entertaining, stimulating and safe environment. Please contact the museum for details.

7 Does the museum cater for coach parties?
Yes. The museum offers excellent value for money for coach tours. Dartfield is in a convenient location on the main Dublin to Galway Road, providing an entertaining break for coach tours.



How to get to Dartfield

Dartfield is situated to the east of Galway city, on the main Dublin to Galway road, the N6, between the towns of Ballinasloe and Loughrea. It is 27 miles from Galway, 4 miles from Loughrea and 12 from Ballinasloe. (Map of Ireland/Galway/images).

Hours of opening

The museum is open all year around, 7 days a week.
The opening hours are 9am - 6pm.