Northern Ireland

Armagh Rhymers beloved mask given new lease of life thanks to BBC’s The Repair Shop

The Macha mask has been ‘beautifully restored’ after receiving care from experts on the hit BBC show

A mask belonging to the Armagh Rhymers has been restored by experts on BBC One's The Repair Shop (

A mask belonging to one of Ireland’s most celebrated traditional music and theatre ensembles has been given a new lease of life, thanks to The Repair Shop.

Armagh Rhymers beloved Macha horse mask has been “beautifully restored” after receiving care from experts on the hit BBC show.

The intricate, willow weaved mask had been showing signs of age, with the ears detached causing significant damage to the top of the head.

Undated BBC Handout Photo from The Repair Shop. Pictured: Jay Blades. PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV The Repair Shop. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV The Repair Shop.
The BBC One show, The Repair Shop, has become a fan favourite since it first aired in 2017. PICTURE: BBC

Made in the 1970s, the mask is regarded as one of the most identifiable worn by The Armagh Rhymers.

Named Macha after the horse goddess from whom Armagh (Ard Mhacha) gets its name, it has been used to delight audiences around the world for 50 year.

But the Armagh Rhymers said that without expert intervention, it was at risk of permanent damage, meaning it would have to be retired from performance forever.

Artistic director Dara Vallely and director Anne Hart, who is also the performer behind the Macha mask, travelled to the famous Repair Shop Barn in West Sussex.

In the episode, expert willow artist Sarah Hatton was able to perform the intricate and delicate repairs required to restore Macha.

Ms Hart said: “The Repair Shop is a cultural phenomenon showcasing the best craftsmanship and demonstrates a real appreciation for traditional techniques and precious items.

“Macha is a particular favourite with our younger audiences who are often genuinely shocked to discover there is a real human underneath.

“Thanks to Sarah and The Repair Shop team Macha will now be able to delight audiences for at least another 50 years.”

Armagh Rhymers 
Armagh Rhymers with Ciaran Scullion of the Arts Council NI. PICTURE: LIAM MCARDLE