Exhibition features photographs of Early 20th century Norwegian whaling in Co. Mayo Ireland

Opens October 21 at New Bedford Whaling Museum

Presented by National Parks & Wildlife Service, Ballycroy, Westport, Co. Mayo

 American premiere for this Irish exhibition

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. –Ireland’s focus today is on conservation, but not so in the early 20th century, when these marine mammals were prized for both their meat and oils. Norwegian whalers were looking to expand operations off the coast of Ireland. Aggressive hunting in Norway had vastly depleted their numbers leading to a commercial ban on whaling in Norwegian waters in 1904. Early 20th Century Norwegian Whaling in Co. Mayo, Ireland an exhibition of prints made from 30 glass plate photographs, provides a window to the past, when whaling based in Co. Mayo generated products for export, mostly to Scandinavian countries. Presented by the National Parks & Wildlife Service, Ballycroy, Westport, Co. Mayo, the exhibition is on view at the New Bedford Whaling Museum from October 21, 2016 through September, 2017. The Whaling Museum hosts an opening reception on Friday October, 21 beginning at 6 pm. This is a free event and open to the public.

Early 20th Century Norwegian Whaling in Co. Mayo, Ireland focuses on whaling stations that operated at Rusheen, on South Inishkea Island, and on the Mullet Peninsula. The station at Rusheen was beset with problems, as the company had to contend with militant islanders who refused to allow strangers to work at the station. It had its best catch of 102 whales in 1909, but by 1912, the number of whales had dwindled to just 26. Heavily in debt, the Arranmore Whaling Co. officially ceased to exist in 1915.

Whaling got underway off the Mullet Peninsula in 1910, under the direction of a charming and shrewd businessman, Captain Lorentz Bruun, with Norwegian and Irishmen working together to man the station. However, the outbreak of World War One was the death knell of whaling in North Mayo. All fishing stopped and the Norwegians went home. The station was used by the British Admiralty as a petrol base until 1918. After the war, Bruun attempted to recommence whaling, but demand for the drop in demand for whale oil and poor management brought an end to Mayo’s short-lived and turbulent association with whaling.

The Whaling Museum is grateful to Denis Strong, Divisional Manager, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Ballycroy, Westport, Co. Mayo for bringing Early 20th Century Norwegian Whaling in Co. Mayo, Ireland to New Bedford for its American premiere. Strong is a featured speaker at a symposium on Irish and Irish-American history presented by the Whaling Museum on Saturday, October 22nd and titled Famine, Friends and Fenians. To register for the symposium call 508-997-0046 ext. 100. Symposium tickets are $25 for Museum members; $35 for non-members.


Contact: Gayle Hargreaves
Director of Marketing
New Bedford Whaling Museum
508-997-0046 Ext. 139 (office)



About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of human interaction with whales through time, and the history and culture of the South Coast region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown. Museum hours April through December: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is open until 8 p.m. every second Thursday of the month. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Admission is: Free for Museum members and children aged three and under; adults $16, seniors (65+) $14, students (19+) $9, child and youth $6. For more information, visit www.whalingmuseum.org.


For images contact Gayle Hargreaves.

Caption: E.C.B. Harpoon – Inishkea Islands, 1908. Photographed by R. M. Barrington