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New museum aims to make a splash by celebrating all things water

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Steaming ahead: Workers at the Museum of Water in Britain arrange the museum’s archive display. There is a global network of water museums. Now Ireland is to get its own Museum of Water. Photo: Museum of Water

Steaming ahead: Workers at the Museum of Water in Britain arrange the museum’s archive display. There is a global network of water museums. Now Ireland is to get its own Museum of Water. Photo: Museum of Water

Steaming ahead: Workers at the Museum of Water in Britain arrange the museum’s archive display. There is a global network of water museums. Now Ireland is to get its own Museum of Water. Photo: Museum of Water

The situation may be fluid for all new ventures but one determined group believes its idea can weather the storm.

The Water Museum of Ireland was established as a legal entity just before the coronavirus lockdown so, for now, the search for a premises is on hold.

But the people behind the project are pushing ahead with developing it as a virtual collection and hope by the time the restrictions are lifted, they will have amassed a wealth of material they can begin preparing to put on physical display.

Déirdre Crowe, who teaches sustainability at Dublin City University (DCU), said the museum would explore every aspect of water in Irish life - from pond life to politics and holy wells to hydroelectric dams.

"Water is so essential to us. It shapes everything. It determined where our ancestors lived, it influences how our cites and towns develop," she said.

"It's our health and wellbeing, it inspires us, it challenges us, we celebrate it in art and attach spiritual significance to it.

"Even the fact that we talk about the rain all the time shows how much it is part of our lives but a lot of the time we don't even think about it. We take it for granted."

Ms Crowe said the huge political rows that erupted over water charges in recent years and the massive disruption caused by the problems at Leixlip Water Treatment Plant late last year had brought attention to the issues around how we source and protect our water.

"The museum will be exploring the social history of water as well and hopefully it will contribute to the discussions we need to have around how we manage this precious resource."

The project has the backing of scientists and academics from DCU, University College Dublin, Technical University Dublin and NUI Maynooth.

Ms Crowe said it was intended to be both a visitor attraction and educational centre with an emphasis on interactive learning.

Ideally, a waterside venue would be found for it.

"I'd love a port where river meets sea," she said.

Her own interest in water came from growing up close to the sea in Dublin, while travelling abroad further fuelled her fascination.

"I was lucky enough to visit the Iguazu Falls which are shared by Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina and that has been an unforgettable experience," she said.

"But I'm also struck by how so much work by Irish Aid and Irish aid workers is focused on accessing water and ensuring clean water.

"It's so fundamental and the idea of not having that is unimaginable to us.

"I just think we need to celebrate water more," she added.

Anyone with artefacts, archive materials or personal items they want to bring to the museum's attention can contact hello@watermuseumofireland.ie.

Irish Independent