War and peace… How the battle to keep the military museum open was won

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William Sullivan managed to keep the Irish Military War Museum open in Collon. Photo: SEamus Farrelly

The Irish Military War Museum at Starinagh, Collon, has been saved from closure.

Owner William Sullivan had faced the prospect of closing his beloved museum last week, but a last-minute cheaper insurance quote saved the facility.

“We were supposed to close on Monday, but we officially learned that day of a new, much smaller insurance quote.

“We have to get rid of the inflatable obstacle course, but we can stay open,” he said.

“Aontú’s Peter Whelan was a huge help, I can’t thank him enough, he contacted the insurers and he’s still fighting for me,” he said.

The museum is now open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from September until next summer, every weekend and by reservation for private groups.

“I am delighted to be able to continue. This museum is my dream. He didn’t think I would be open now,” he said.

Last month William Sullivan said he will have to make the heartbreaking decision to close as he faces a whopping €28,000 insurance bill.

“I also have to pay tariffs. I’ve argued with council, pointing out it’s a museum, but they say it’s a storage facility,” he said at the time.

The museum, which opened in June 2014, examines the involvement of Irish participants in World War I and World War II, as well as other military conflicts in world history.

The museum recreates in stunning detail examples of World War I trenches as well as exhibits of the highly motorized conflict of World War II.

It houses one of the finest collections of Allied and Axis World War II vehicles and disabled weapons ever assembled in Ireland.

“We cover everything from the Napoleonic War to the American Civil War, WWI, Revolutionary War, 1916, WWII. We do Vietnam and the Gulf War.

William said the museum never made a profit.

“I’ll be honest, we’ve been open for eight years, but we’ve never taken a dime out of the place. Not a thing. “Every year it costs me money. It’s a completely, absolutely labor of love.

“I love telling stories and talking to people and having a bit of a goof with them.

“I love hearing people’s stories about their family members.

“It’s a hands-on experience. “You can get close to things here in the museum.

“You can handle things.”

William started collecting at the age of eight when he found a coin belonging to his grandfather, who served in the Royal Irish Fusiliers and received an award for being a marksman.

Local Aontú party member Peter Whelan said he was delighted with the news.

“This tourist hotspot attracts 15,000 visitors to our beautiful Boyne Valley each year. I am still working with William and the appraisals office to have the museum exempt from taxes, which is around €1,000 per month. I am convinced that we will also succeed with the pricing project.

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone in the North East and further afield of the great convenience we have on our doorstep in Collon. It is a very reasonable and enjoyable day out for the whole family.

“William and his staff take visitors on a one-to-one tour of excellent wartime and military memorabilia and he explains in detail where and when he obtained each tank or armored vehicle.”

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