Press Release: Ireland and the Birth of Europe launches at The Hunt Museum

27 July, 2023

20-07-2023 The Hunt Museum, Ireland and the Birth of Europe opening night. L-R John Logan, The Hunt Trust; Sinead Hutchison, Exhibitions Manager The Hunt Museum; Limerick Mayor Gerald Mitchell; Dr. Damian Bracken, University College Cork; Dr. Jill Cousins, Director & CEO The Hunt Museum; Sian McInerney, Collections Project Manager The Hunt Museum. Picture: Keith Wiseman

Ireland and the Birth of Europe launches at The Hunt Museum

Thursday, 20th July saw a good turnout for a new exhibition at Limerick’s Hunt Museum. Ireland and the Birth of Europe is the brainchild of the Department for Foreign Affairs in collaboration with Dr Damian Bracken of University College Cork (UCC). It is touring Ireland and other countries as part of the 50th anniversary of the accession of Ireland to the European Economic Community, the forerunner to the European Union, in 1973.

We couldn’t resist adding this exhibition to our summer programme because it gave a brilliant opportunity to put some of our world class medieval religious objects into context and to tell the world how important Ireland as the land of saints and scholars was to the formation of ‘Europe’.” commented Dr Jill Cousins, Director of the Hunt Museum.

The exhibition tells the story of the part played by Irish scholars and missionaries in the early history of the European idea, especially their cultural role in the consolidation of the empire built by the Carolingians, an empire that covered much of western Europe in the Middle Ages.

Dr Damian Bracken from UCC who co-curated the exhibition with Dr Angela Byrne reminded the guests of the need to be proud of Ireland’s record in bringing learning and knowledge to Europe starting in the 6th Century with St Columbanus. He said:

“St Columbanus, teacher in the monastery of Bangor, Co. Down, was the first of the Irish missionaries and scholars to make their home on the Continent. Around 600 CE, he wrote ‘of all of Europe’ (totius Europae), becoming the first to use the expression in reference to the Continent’s cultural identity after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Robert Schumann, in his July 1950 speech commemorating St Columbanus’s remarkable impact, spoke of the Irishman “as the patron saint of all those who seek to construct a united Europe” echoing the words of Columbanus himself almost 1400 years earlier who wrote “we are all joint members of one body, whether Franks, or Britons or Irish or whatever our race be.”

The new Mayor of Limerick, Gerald Mitchell, on opening the exhibition was delighted to see the exhibition come to life with real objects which were further enhanced by being able to handle the Barbie pink 3D printed versions with audio stories, saying: “It shows how Limerick can always come up with something new and different. It is a lovely example of our branding Atlantic Edge, European Embrace”

The exhibition is on until September 8, 2023 and is a must for anyone who is proud of Irish heritage or wants to know more.

Some supplementary events are scheduled including Calligraphy Workshops at 2 pm – 4 pm Tuesday – Thursday during Heritage Week 12 – 19th August and Dr Damian Bracken will give a lecture on the subject at 7 pm – 8 pm Thursday, 10th August. Other events are also in the pipeline – check for details.

Notes for Editors:

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Ireland in the EU

Ireland plays a central role in Europe. The Department of Foreign Affairs helps to shape the EU through their input into economic and social policies. They use our EU membership to make a valuable contribution to world affairs. And they promote and protect Ireland’s interests in the EU through the work of the Department of the Taoiseach, with the cooperation of the Department, its Embassies in Europe and the Permanent Mission to the EU in Brussels.


The Hunt Museum,

The Hunt Museum holds one of Ireland’s greatest private collections of Art and Antiquities from the Neolithic period to the 20th century. Donated by John and Gertrude Hunt to the people of Ireland, this diverse collection is housed in The Custom House, an 18th Century Palladian style building in Limerick. The Hunt Museum is a centre of learning and civic life that preserves and uses its world class collections to support a greater understanding of our past and to deliver new collaborations and innovation. Public engagement is key to our approach with a full education programme and wide community participation in all our work.

Activities in the garden include: Garden Chess & Games; Jazz on Fridays, the Wild Geese Festival Boules Tournament and Painting in the Garden.

Watch Hunt Museum social media @huntmuseum and the website for details.

More photos:


The Hunt Museum Contact:

Emma Twomey,


Get fun and creativity in your inbox

Enter your details to sign up to our newsletter.