Places to visit: Exhibitions

Freemasons Hall

Freemasons’ Hall

The home of the Grand Lodge of Ireland since 1866. The building houses many meeting rooms in different architectural styles, including an Egyptian room and a mock Gothic Room. There is an exhibition on Freemasonry in Ireland from the early 18th Century.  A fascinating curiosity.

Opening Hours:
The Grand Lodge Museum is open to the public Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm and is typically open on Saturdays also when the building is in use. There is no charge for access.

Public tours of Freemasons’ Hall are available at 3.00pm most weekdays.

Outside of those times, private tours of Freemasons’ Hall, for parties of a minimum of 12 persons, can be requested.

Contact & Pricing:
freemason.ie
Tel: 01 676 1337
Admission free; €5 per person for guided tour.

GPO O'Connell Street

GPO Museum – O’Connell Street

The GPO Museum “Witness History” is a visitor attraction which puts you right inside the GPO (General Post Office) during Easter Week in 1916. History comes to life as you experience events from both sides of the conflict and through the eyes of bystanders caught in the crossfire, availing of electronic touch screens, video, audio visual booths, sound and authentic artefacts (many previously unseen). You can compose newspaper reports, examine the original copy of the Proclamation and send Morse code to declare the Irish Republic by radio.

Explore the events of the Easter Week through personal stories, eyewitness accounts and historical artefacts; use interactive maps to route military dispatches from the GPO to Stephen’s Green; compare the life of a wealthy child in Dublin at the time to the life of a child of the tenements; use touch screens to learn about the events leading up to the 1916 Easter Rising and its aftermath; examine the impact the Rising had on Ireland (both North and South) and throughout the world; and explore how Easter Week has been commemorated over the past 100 years.

After the exhibition, you can relax and reflect in the café and retail store overlooking the courtyard. The courtyard is also home to a commissioned sculpture called ‘They are of us all’, commemorating the forty children who died during the Easter Rising.

The General Post Office is the centrepiece of O’Connell Street. It was designed by Francis Johnston in 1814 in Greek revival style and completed in 1818. He wanted to build a handsome building that would add to Dublin’s architectural beauty and emphasise the important role of the Post Office in Irish life. There was a fine public office at the front, a courtyard for the mail coaches at the back and an imposing façade complete with classical columns and statues on the roof. The statues are of Hibernia (Ireland), with Fidelity to one side and Mercury to the other. During the 1916 Rising, the GPO was one of three Dublin landmarks – along with the Four Courts and the Custom House – destroyed in the fighting. It was rebuilt and re-opened in 1929.

Just after midday on Easter Monday 1916, a band of rebels stormed the GPO. They ordered staff and customers to leave and seized control of the building, making it their headquarters during the fierce fighting of Easter Week. Ireland was declared a sovereign nation on the front steps of the GPO when Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of Independence on Easter Monday. In the face of considerable military opposition, the rebels held the GPO for almost a week. With the building on fire and crumbling, the rebels tunnelled through the walls of neighbouring buildings and retreated to nearby Moore Street. On Saturday, Pearse took the decision to surrender.

The Easter Rising, though it ended in failure, set into motion an unstoppable chain of events which would ultimately lead to the creation of the Irish Republic.

The 1916 Proclamation is one of the most important documents of modern Irish history. Drafted in large part by Padraig Pearse, it was hurriedly printed in Liberty Hall on the night before the Rising began. The copy on display here is one of the few to have survived the turmoil of Easter Week and the passage of over a century.

Opening Hours:
Tues to Sat: 10 am–5 pm, last admission 4 pm
Closed on Sunday and holidays.
Self-guided tour – Book online in advance as this is a very busy visitor centre.
Public guided tours on Saturday only.

Private tours for groups (10 people and over) may be arranged by booking in advance with the reservations office (an additional cost applies).

Closed New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter Sunday, Dec 23-26.

Contact & Pricing:
anpost.com/Witness-history
info@gpowitnesshistory.ie
Tel: 01 872 1916
General Post Office, O’Connell Street Lower, Dublin 1
Adults €17; concessions.

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Ireland’s number one visitor attraction, providing a journey into the heart of the world famous Guinness brand and company. This historic building is central to Dublin’s heritage, and has been continually updated to create a blend of industrial tradition and contemporary edge. The seven floors bring to life the rich heritage of Guinness, telling the story from its origins at St. James’s Gate in Dublin to its growth as a global brand, known all around the world.

The enormously popular tour takes in the history of the Guinness family, the ingredients and craft of brewing, cooperage and transportation, Guinness’s long tradition of award winning advertising, the craft of pouring the Perfect Pint, the use of Guinness in cooking, and a chance to enjoy a pint of Guinness in the lofty Gravity Bar, taking in breath-taking panoramic 360° views of the city.

The Open Gate Brewery is the home of brewing experimentation and innovation at St. James’s Gate where Guinness brewers are given license to explore new recipes, reinterpret old ones and experiment freely to bring exciting new beers to life. You can purchase Guinness stout and the latest brewers project releases like Hop House 13 lager, Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter.  You can also purchase experimental beers.  Some of these beers will end up on tap at your local pub or on the far side of the world, while others will never leave these walls.

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri: 10am – 5pm
Saturday: 9.30am to 6pm
Sunday: 9.30am to 5pm
Opening hours are seasonal and subject to change, advance online booking recommended.

The Open Gate Brewery opens Friday to Sunday: 12pm – 9pm, last orders at 8pm. Over 18s only.

The cheapest ticket includes a self-guided tour and a pint of Guinness (or non-alcoholic alternative).  Optional upgrades and additions are also offered.

Closed Dec 24-26 & Good Friday.

Contact & Pricing:
guinness-storehouse.com
info@guinnessstorehouse.com
guinnessopengate.com
Tel: 01 408 4800
St. James’s Gate, Dublin 8
Adult tickets start at €20; concessions

Hugh Lane Gallery

Hugh Lane Gallery

The Hugh Lane Gallery is the oldest gallery of modern and contemporary art in Ireland, housing 2,000 artworks, including Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas, and the Francis Bacon studio. The gallery organises regular classical music concerts (Sundays at noon), lectures, etc.

The Hugh Lane Gallery first opened its doors in January 1908 in Clonmel House, Harcourt Street, and is thought to be among the first galleries of modern art in the world. In 1933 the Gallery moved to Charlemont House in Parnell Square, a neo-classical town house designed in 1765 by William Chambers for James Caulfield, the first Earl of Charlemont.

In 2006 a new extension designed by Gilroy McMahon saw the gallery double in size with additional space now available to show permanent collection items as well as facilitating temporary exhibitions. There is also a dedicated learning space, together with a bookshop and café.

The Gallery’s collection includes the renowned Hugh Lane Bequest 1917 (shared with the National Gallery, London) which includes masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir and Morisot among others.

“The Eve of St Agnes”, the masterpiece of the renowned 20th Century stained glass artist, Harry Clarke, is very popular with visitors.

Francis Bacon’s legendary studio was relocated from 7 Reece Mews, London, to Dublin in 1998 and is now on permanent display. Together with fascinating unfinished works by Bacon, there are display cases presenting items from the studio, an audio visual room and touch screen terminals which allow the visitor to explore the life and art of one of the most important artists of the 20th Century.

The layout upon entering the Gallery can be confusing. If you turn right (passing the reception desk) and go up the stairs, you will visit the 2006 Extension where generally very modern works are exhibited. The Extension design is stark and cold. However, if upon entering the front doors of the Gallery, you stay on the ground floor and walk straight ahead for about eight metres, you will arrive at the Harry Clarke exhibit on your left, while a little further on are rooms displaying classic European artists, culminating with the striking Francis Bacon studio. The most rewarding part of one’s visit will be in this area.

Opening Hours:
Tues to Thurs: 9.45am – 6pm
Friday: 9.45am – 5pm
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm
Closed Mondays

Contact & Pricing:
hughlane.ie
info.hughlane@dublincity.ie
Tel: 01 222 5564
Charlemont House, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1
Admission free

Irish Architectural Archive

Irish Architectural Archive

The Irish Architectural Archive was established in 1976 to collect and preserve material relating to the architecture of Ireland. There are well over 1,000,000 items in its collections. The Archive is the greatest single source of information on Ireland’s buildings.

The Archive is stored within the largest terraced house on Merrion Square. There is a fine entrance hall, an imposing stone main staircase, and attractive neo-classical plaster work.

The public areas include the Archive Reading Rooms (on the ground floor) and the Architecture Gallery (showcasing a programme of exhibitions which make the Archive’s holdings accessible to all).

Opening Hours:
Tues to Fri: 10am – 5pm

Contact & Pricing:
www.iarc.ie
info@iarc.ie
45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01 6633 040
Admission free

Irish famine scene

Irish Famine Exhibition

The Irish Potato Famine was the most catastrophic event in Ireland’s turbulent history. It is also regarded as being one of the worst famines in history (in terms of deaths as a proportion of the overall population).

The famine is often referred to as The Great Hunger, a period of mass death from starvation and disease between 1845 and 1852. This temporary exhibition tells the story of what happened and why.

After centuries of British colonial rule, a large section of the Irish population lived in extreme poverty and depended on the potato as their main (and often their only) food source for survival.

Centuries of British invasions, land confiscations and anti-catholic laws had reduced the country and its people to levels of poverty not seen in other parts of Europe.

At the same time, Britain was booming and in the throes of the industrial revolution. Ireland was part of the United Kingdom at this time and might have expected to benefit accordingly. But this was not to be.

Massive and speedy humanitarian aid was required when the potato crop failed. Instead the British Government acted slowly and in a fragmented way. Their overriding concern was not to disrupt market forces, so food continued to be exported to Britain as the Irish starved.

The Great Hunger devastated Ireland. At least a million died, perhaps even 1.5 million – we will never know the true figure. Millions more were forced to flee the country. The population of the island has never recovered.

From a population of between 8 and 9 million in 1845, a steady decline ensued for the next 150 years while other European populations grew.

This exhibition tells the story of what happened during those horrific years. The exhibition uses rare 19th century photographs, witness accounts, and contemporary sketches, as well as maps and statistical information. A 15-minute film explains the background to the Famine.

The exhibition contains a number of museum artefacts such as a Famine Pot from County Donegal, a workhouse coffin carrier and a letter from a father to his son who fled the Famine. The famine pot which was used to make soup is perhaps the ultimate famine memorial. The pots were mainly manufactured in Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, England, by a Quaker iron foundry run by the Darby family. The pots were made of cast iron. 600 pots were supplied by the Government, a further 295 were provided by the Quakers themselves, and some also came from the United States. In the summer months of 1847, approximately 3 million Irish People relied on soup from these pots for their survival.

Opening Hours:
April to Sept: Tues – Sat only, 12pm – 6pm, last entry 5.15pm.
Closed Oct to May.

Contact & Pricing:
theirishpotatofamine.com
irishfaminedvd@gmail.com
Tel: 089 227 5735
Second Floor, St Stephens Green Shopping Centre, Dublin 2.
Adults  €13; concessions

James Joyce Centre

The James Joyce Centre is a beautifully restored Georgian town house, exhibiting items relating to the life and work of James Joyce.

The house was built in 1784 by Francis Ryan for Valentine Brown, the Earl of Kenmare, who used it as his townhouse. The plasterwork was done by Michael Stapleton, one of the finest stuccadores of the time. The house was given special mention by Constantine Curran in his book “Dublin Decorative Plasterwork of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries”, and the photographs he took were essential to the restoration of the house. Curran was also a close friend of Joyce’s.

In the 18th century this area of Dublin was very fashionable but it fell into decline in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1982 twelve houses on the street had been demolished by the City Council as dangerous buildings, including the house next door. Number 35 was saved by Senator David Norris, a Joycean scholar who also lives on this street. For many years, the Centre was run by descendants of Joyce’s brother Charles Joyce and sister May Monaghan. It is now run as a limited company with the support of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The James Joyce Centre also offers guided walking tours of historic Joycean Dublin, taking in some of the monumental and ordinary sights and sounds of the city in which Joyce staged all his works. See the separate entry entitled “James Joyce Centre Walking Tours”.

Opening Hours:
Tues to Sat: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Closed Sun & Mon
Walking tours take place every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 11am.

Contact & Pricing:
jamesjoyce.ie
info@jamesjoyce.ie
Phone 01 878 8547
35 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1

Jeanie Johnston

Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum

The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum is a replica of a wooden tall ship which sailed between Tralee & North America between 1848 and 1855.

The original Jeanie Johnston was built in 1847 on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City, Canada. The cargo ship was purchased in Liverpool by John Donovan and Sons of Tralee, Co. Kerry. As the famine gripped Ireland, the company ran a successful trade bringing emigrants from Ireland to North America and returning with timbers bound for the ports of Europe.

The Jeanie Johnston made her maiden voyage on 24th April 1848 from Blennerville, Co. Kerry to Quebec with 193 passengers on board. Over the next seven years the ship made 16 voyages to North America carrying over 2,500 emigrants safely to the New World. Despite the seven week journey in very cramped and difficult conditions, no life was ever lost on board the ship – a remarkable achievement.

Opening Hours:
Open 7 days; guided tours only.
Tours every 30 mins from 10am – 4.30 pm.

Contact & Pricing:
jeaniejohnston.ie
reservations@jeaniejohnston.ie
Tel: 01 473 0111
Custom House Quay, Dublin 1
Adults €15; concessions

Mary Aikenhead

Mary Aikenhead Heritage Centre

The Mary Aikenhead Heritage Centre showcases the history of the Religious Sisters of Charity. Through audio-visual scenes and many short video clips, visitors gain an insight into the life and times of Mary Aikenhead (1787-1858), the history of the congregation, and its continuing expression today.

Mary Aikenhead spent the last 27 years of her life as an invalid, communicating to her congregation through countless letters. The focal point of the exhibition is her room, where she lived from 1845 until her death in 1858.

Following her training at the Bar Convent in York, Mary founded the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity and the first convent opened in North William Street, Dublin in 1815.

In 1821 the Governor of Kilmainham Gaol asked for sisters to visit two young women who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The Governor was so impressed by the sister’s influence on these women that he asked that they would continue to be involved in prison visitation. To this day, prison visitation is an important ministry for the Congregation.

At the request of the Archbishop of Dublin, the Sisters of Charity opened their first school in 1830 in Gardiner Street, Dublin.

In 1832 there was an outbreak of Asiatic cholera in Ireland. A temporary hospital was set up in Grangegorman but it was badly managed and under-staffed. The Archbishop of Dublin asked Mary Aikenhead to send some of her sisters to Grangegorman to help. The death rate was high, but the sisters remained at their posts bringing solace to the dying and nursing to the convalescents. Only one sister contracted the disease, and she survived.

In 1835 St. Vincent’s Hospital opened in a house on St. Stephen’s Green. It was the first hospital staffed by nuns in the English-speaking world.

The Children’s Hospital in Temple Street was founded in 1872 by a group of charitable people in a house at 9 Upper Buckingham Street, Dublin. There was a steady increase in activity in the first years, prompting the Governing Committee in 1876 to invite the Religious Sisters of Charity to take over the complete running of the hospital which they did in July 1876.

Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross was opened in December 1879. Newspaper reports at the time hailed the opening of the Hospice as ‘a unique charity’ and as one ‘previously unknown in these islands, or indeed in the neighbouring continent’.

In 1892 Providence Woollen Mills was established under the guidance of Sr. Mary Arsenius Morrogh Bernard as a way of improving the social and economic conditions of the people of Foxford, Co. Mayo.

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sat: 10.30am – 4pm
Please contact in advance to arrange a visit.

Contact & Pricing:
rsccaritas.com/who-we-are/heritage-centre
1maheritage@eircom.net
Tel: 086 724 7660 / 01 491 0041
Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross Rd, Dublin 6W
Admission is free

National Gallery

In 1852 William Dargan, the father of the Irish rail network, approached the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) with an offer to underwrite a spectacular exhibition on Leinster Lawn in Dublin, the home of the RDS at the time. Just eleven months later, the exhibition was opened in an astonishing series of pavilions for which the architect, John Benson, received a knighthood. The enthusiastic response of the visiting crowds demonstrated an active interest in the establishment of a permanent public collection.

The next ten years saw active campaigning for the funding of a new Gallery building which was designed by Francis Fowke. In January 1864, the Earl of Carlisle officially opened the National Gallery of Ireland to the public. The collection consisted of just 112 pictures, including 39 purchased in Rome in 1856 and 30 which were on loan from the National Gallery London and elsewhere.

The Gallery thrived over the years through purchases, bequests and donations. In 1901 the Countess of Milltown gifted over 200 pictures to the gallery from her house at Russborough as well as a collection of silver, furniture and books from her library. The gift was so substantial that a new extension was constructed to accommodate it.

In 1968 the gallery was extended again with designs by Frank DuBerry. This extension is today named the Beit Wing in acknowledgement of the generosity of Sir Alfred and Lady Beit who gifted 17 outstanding old master pictures to the nation in 1987. Some six years later in 1993 the Gallery became the focus of international attention when Caravaggio’s, ‘The Taking of Christ’, a painting recorded in contemporary biographies on the artist and known through copies but long believed to be lost or destroyed, was discovered in a Jesuit house of studies in Dublin. The picture remains in the gallery on indefinite loan from the Jesuit fathers.

The National Gallery houses some 15,000 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and objets d’art dating from the early thirteenth century through to the mid-twentieth century. The collection boasts an impressive range of masterpieces by artists from the major European schools of art whilst also featuring the world’s most comprehensive collection of Irish art.

In June 2017 the Gallery re-opened to the public following a period of extensive refurbishment and modernisation of its historic wings on Merrion Square. The grand scale of the Shaw Room at entry level and the monumental galleries in the Dargan and Milltown wings now give the displays a renewed sense of space and grandeur.

The beautifully transformed spaces now feature an entirely new presentation of the celebrated permanent collection featuring master paintings by Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Ruisdael, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, Monet, Gris and Picasso. The Gallery is also able to once again display its prestigious collection of Irish art with works by Daniel Maclise, Roderic O’Conor, John Lavery, William Orpen, Seán Keating, Gerard Dillon, Evie Hone, Norah McGuinness, Jack B. Yeats, Louis le Brocquy and William Scott.

This multimillion-euro refurbishment project was carried out by the Office of Public Works’ Project Management Services, with architects Heneghan Peng as the Design Team Leaders.

Central to the modernisation work was the construction of a state-of-the-art underground energy centre housing vital services. Original nineteenth-century architectural features and spaces are revealed and majestic windows now open onto a spacious light-filled courtyard. The new courtyard dramatically enhances visitors’ orientation between the historic Dargan and Milltown wings. It is also the site for a dramatic sculpture, Magnus Modus, by Joseph Walsh.

The period of refurbishment also allowed for an extensive survey of the Gallery’s permanent collection. More than 450 works have undergone conservation and research. The most spectacular of these is Daniel Maclise’s The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife (1854), which has been returned to the elegant surrounds of the Shaw Room in the Dargan Wing.

The refurbished galleries on Merrion Square display over 650 works of art from the permanent collection presented broadly chronologically. The Irish collections are prominent at ground level with European art on the upper level.

An integral part of Gallery is the National Portrait Collection which shows works of eminent Irishmen (Seamus Heaney, TK Whitaker, Brian Friel) and Irishwomen (Mary Robinson, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy) who have contributed to the social, historic, cultural and political life of the country. Most recent acquisitions include portraits of Tony award winning theatre director, Garry Hynes by Vera Klute a portrait of Graham Norton by Gareth Reid, commissioned as part of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2016, and a portrait of Henry Shefflin by Gerry Davis, commissioned as part of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016.

The Gallery complex consists of four interconnected buildings:

Dargan Wing: Designed by Francis Fowke and inaugurated in 1864, this constitutes the earliest element in the complex. Its exterior design was determined by the requirement to mirror Francis Clarendon’s elegant Natural History Museum of 1856 located directly across Leinster Lawn. The wing was named in honour of William Dargan (1799-1867), the great Irish railway magnate, who formed a ‘Dargan Committee’ to promote the establishment of a National Gallery in Dublin. A statue of Dargan stands in the front lawn of the Gallery on Merrion Square. One of the most beautiful spaces in the Dargan wing is the Shaw Room, named after George Bernard Shaw who bequeathed one third of his royalties to the National Gallery of Ireland, which, he documented as being of significant influence throughout his childhood.

Milltown Wing: Based on designs by Thomas Manley Deane, the project, which was inaugurated in 1903, was delivered by his son Thomas Newham Deane who inherited the practice from his father. The wing is named in recognition of the Countess of Milltown who presented 200 works of art comprising paintings, silver, furniture and books to the National Gallery of Ireland from her house at Russborough, Co. Wicklow (1902). Formally gifted in July, the collection arrived in 1906.

Beit Wing: Based on designs by Frank du Berry, Senior Architect at the OPW this modern addition provided not only additional galleries but also incorporated a library, lecture theatre and restaurant together with the provision of a conservation studio. It was refurbished in the 1990s by the Office of Public Works (OPW). Originally called the Modern wing, then the North wing, it was named the Beit wing in honour of the munificent gift to the Gallery (1987) of seventeen masterpieces by Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, which included works by Vermeer, Goya, Murillo, Ruisdael, Hobbema, and Velazquez.

Millennium Wing: Opened in January 2002, this wing was designed by the London-based practice, Benson & Forsyth, who were awarded the commission following an international competition. The Portland stone clad façade of this building gives directly onto Clare Street, a busy thoroughfare directly opposite Trinity College, and contrasts with the reserved elegance of the original entrance on Merrion Square.

You can consult the following links to get information about the national portrait collection, and highlights of the Gallery’s collection.

www.nationalgallery.ie (national portrait collection)

www.nationalgallery.ie (highlights)

Opening Hours:
Sun & Mon: 11am – 5.30pm
Tues, Wed, Fri & Sat: 9.15 am – 5.30pm
Thurs: 9.15 am – 8.30pm.
Upper floors begin closing 40mins before general closing times.

General admission is free, no booking necessary.
Tickets may be required for some events and exhibitions.
A limited number of free tours are available, usually on weekends only.
Check the website for details, and to book tickets if necessary.

Closed Good Friday and 24 – 26 December.

Contact & Pricing:
nationalgallery.ie
info@ngi.ie
Tel: 01 661 5133
Merrion Square West, Dublin 2
Admission to the permanent collection is free.