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Mickey Marley’s Roundabout

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What a lovely way to start full time work again in my new role by getting out Mickey Marley’s Roundabout!

A lovely request came through to recreate a group photograph with half a dozen children in the late 1980s pictured on Mickey Marley’s Roundabout. It was great to provide access to this item to this group who have such fond memories of hearing the music of Mickey Marley coming into their estate.

I have heard so much about this Roundabout but not being from Belfast I never had the opportunity to see it coming up pulled by Marley’s horse and hearing the music. I can only imagine as a child seeing the vibrant colours and excitement it must have caused.

Did you know that it was Mickey Marley himself who donated the Roundabout to the Folk Museum back in 1996? It didn’t arrive in the best condition with Mickey not having operated it for a while but it was completely restored by our workshop conservation staff. Other staff tell me about how it used to be out in the Folk Museum and they would operate it for children visiting the museum. It must have been lovely for parents to see their children on the roundabout that they got such enjoyment from themselves as children. Although I have to admit having the roundabout out was not strictly authentic for the Folk Museum to represent life throughout Ulster from 1900-25. So for now we will keep the Roundabout safe, as an object of the National Collection but who knows hopefully we will find the opportunity to bring out Mickey Marley’s Roundabout (preferably by horse!) sometime in the future.

When we first opened in the early 1960s we were collecting items relating to the past only about 50 years previous but now we are 100 years on from that. Other folk museums are developing their sites to represent more modern life so hopefully in future developments we can do the same.

It would be great to have more modern objects like Mickey Marley’s Roundabout out on display, an iconic piece of community history for the people of Belfast. We’ll keep planning how we can engage with our collection across our sites but in the meantime enjoy recent images of the Roundabout and it is always here for anyone wanting to see it. I’m afraid I can’t let you ride it though, it is just plywood! Thank goodness health and safety didn’t inspect the roundabout too closely or it may not have become the legend it is.

Have you any memories of the roundabout? I would love to hear from you, it’s always great to hear more about the objects in our care.

Tell the truth….who is humming the song right now reading this?

Image: Mickey Marley’s Roundabout out in the Folk Museum, July 2018
Mickey Marley’s Roundabout out in the Folk Museum, July 2018
Image: Mickey Marley’s Roundabout out in the Folk Museum, July 2018
Mickey Marley’s Roundabout out in the Folk Museum, July 2018