Garvagh Museum is a rural Folk Museum in the Bann Valley.
The museum had its origins when artefacts collected from the town and district were housed in a small building adjoining Garvagh Secondary School. When the collection out grew this space, the location chosen for the museum was the walled garden of Garvagh House, the former seat of the Canning family, who arrived in the early part of the 17th century, during the Plantation of Ulster, as agents of the Ironmongers’ company. George Canning was elevated to the peerage in 1818 and took the title, Baron Garvagh. This walled garden has historic connections with Denis Hempson the great blind harper who had the distinction of having lived in 3 centuries. He was born in 1695 and died in 1807. George Canning, Dr Bacon and Squire Gage purchased Hempson’s first harp while he was resident in Garvagh. At the entrance to the museum there is a memorial to Hempson in the form of a granite pillar.
This unique collection comprising almost two thousand artefacts is a valuable resource used by both children and senior citizens alike. Schools from a wide area use it on a regular basis. Adults take a delight in examining the artefacts and recall how these items were used in a past age. As people reminisce about the “Good old days”, such stories would indicate that these were indeed hard times; as one old man said, “Bad old days”.
The artefacts in this collection, which trace the history of the Bann Valley from 3000BC through to the first half of the 20th century were donated by the community, preserved by the community and are used by all creeds and classes. They provide a unique treasure trove of history with many important exhibits that bring history to life and help us to better understand our shared culture and heritage.