The radio collection of Pat Herbert collector and curator of the museum, covers all aspects of radio and the history of communication in Ireland.

Philips Radio

Philips Radio – First FM set in Ireland

Here we will attempt to illustrate the wide range of radios within the collection – featuring well known models such as Roberts, Bush, Pilot, Philips, Pye, Cossor, Osram and Opus.

There are also handmade radios – which illustrate the ingenuity and interest of radio lovers here in Ireland during the early years of the Irish state when imports were scarce.

A host of treasures

The Hurdy Gurdy collection hosts a vast array of artefacts – some of which we will share with here on our blog here and on our Flickr – click here to see a small selection of images.

Michael Collins plate

Michael Collins plate

Royal Canadian Air Force Signalling Lamp

Royal Canadian Air Force Signalling Lamp

Mullard valve box

Mullard valve box

Black Cat & Fortunes

Lighthouse Bulb

Lighthouse Bulb

Gentleman's pocket shaving kit

Gentleman’s pocket shaving kit

Woodbine pack with 4 cigarettes

Woodbine pack with 4 cigarettes

How do you eat an elephant?

How does one eat an elephant? – this was a poignant question posed to me today.

How do you eat an elephant?

The context? I have been allowed the mammoth opportunity to catalogue a tower full of treasures. How did this come about? Well, the good people at the Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio have let me in, to document as much of their vast collection as is possible. The contents of the Martello Tower, over looking Irelands Eye island in Howth Co. Dublin is comprised of all manner of communication devices spanning decades and even centuries.

The collection is a lifetime compilation of the museum’s curator, Mr. Patrick Herbert. Pat gained access to the historical tower which was used by Marconi’s communications company since 1905 and had its first broadcast in 1903. It’s the ideal site to house this collection. Even though Pat and his band of volunteers have provided this museum service for the past ten years, the collection had not been catalogued. As this venture is not for profit and purely for the love of radio, I asked if I could create a catalogue of these much cared for items.

So, where to start? I first needed to check if the museum had the basics which, we or at least I, very much take for granted these days: broadband and a functioning computer. Phew, it was all there.

Now I had options. My initial research into collection managment systems (open source of course) lead me to create a local server. I began this process, but the deeper I got into it the more cons there were than pros. I looked at “Collective Access” and other such systems. Testing the Apache server proved too slow on my computer. For this reason, I felt that any excessive drain on the museum’s computer was not an option, so I looked to the cloud for another solution.

Luckily web 2.0 offers a wealth of options. My favourite and chosen tool is Here a free collection management space allows 500MB which is ample for this project, as can hold up to 5000 items if the photo size is reduced significantly.

In order to failsafe against account losses or other incidents, I also decided to create a local Access database. This database will hold a back-up list of all items in the Omeka space.

So how do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time…

Originally composed in June 2012


During the months of November to April the Hurdy Gurdy is open only on

Saturday & Sunday 11am until 4pm.

From May – October open daily.

Admission is charged to Adults & Students/OAP’s, but children are admitted free.

Issac Butt - 1874 election when 64 Home Rule party members became MP's

Issac Butt – 1874 election when 64 Home Rule party members became MP’s

Guided tours are provided of the various collections, illustrating the vast connections between Ireland, the history of communication and the Martello Tower itself.

Thousands of people – both international visitors to these shores and Irish – visit Howth (Binn ÉadairÉadar’s peak) walking to the top of Howth head for the stunning vistas it affords. Whilst here in Howth, many stop to take pictures from the Hurdy Gurdy plateau – an ideal spot for panoramic views of Ireland’s Eye (Viking Ey for island) and Lambay Island. It is also possible to view the Martello Tower on Ireland’s Eye from our plateau, highlighting the signalling connection between the two towers.

But most whilst visiting pass by the tower without attempting the ascent up the steps to view the collections within. If you are intending to visit Howth, take a look at some of our items within the collection… and release your inner culture vulture by making your way up our steps to the treasures contained within.