Places to visit: Historical

Drimnagh Castle

Drimnagh Castle

This feudal stronghold is the only remaining castle in Ireland surrounded by a flooded moat. You can visit the restored great hall, the battlement tower, the stable, the coach house, and the formal 17th Century  gardens.

Opening Hours:
Weekdays only.
Mon – Thurs: 9am – 4pm, last tour at 3pm
Fri: 9am – 1pm, last tour at 12pm
Tours on the hour every hour, starting at 10am.

Access to the castle and grounds is by guided tour only.
Pre-booking by phone is required; pay on arrival.

Contact & Pricing:
drimnaghcastle.org
drimnaghcastle@eircom.net
Tel: 01 450 2530.
Long Mile Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12.
Adults €9; concessions. Cash only.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle operated in the past (for 700 years) as a military fortress, a prison, a treasury, the courts of law and the seat of English administration in Ireland.

The State Apartments dominate the south range of the Great Courtyard. They were built as the residential and public quarters of the Viceregal Court and were the seat of the executive and focus of fashionable and extravagant social life. Today the Apartments are the venue for Ireland’s Presidencies of the European Union, for Presidential inaugurations and for prestigious functions.

The Undercroft is sited at lower ground floor level in the Lower Castle Yard, opposite the Chapel Royal. The city walls join the Castle at this point. Here, the archway allowed small feeder boats to land provisions at the postern gate, from larger boats moored on the Liffey. The double archway and postern gate are still visible. Also on view here is the Viking defence bank, within the butt of the Norman Powder Tower. The original Tower was five stories high – the top storey being occupied by the Lord Deputy during the 16th century.

The Chapel Royal is a gothic revival building designed by Francis Johnston. It is famous for its vaulting, its particularly fine plaster decoration and carved oaks and galleries. Admission to the Chapel Royal is free.

Also on this site, in the Revenue Museum one can experience a unique window on the many and varied activities of the Revenue Commissioners, from tax collection to customs controls, over several centuries. In addition to exhibits old and new, the Museum (located in the Crypt of the Chapel Royal) contains audio-visual displays and instructive video games. See if you can find hidden contraband or guess the parts of a house that were subject to tax in days gone by.

Among the many exhibits are the first set of Exchequer Returns for Saorstát Éireann, a poitín still, a stamp duty machine, examples of counterfeit goods and endangered species seized at ports and airports, early computer technology, and a wide range of beautiful measuring instruments. All of these are housed in the atmospheric crypt of the Chapel Royal.

The Garda Museum and Archives are located at the Treasury Building, Dublin Castle. Here visitors will find an interesting exhibition about the history of An Garda Síochána and information on policing in Ireland before 1922.   The museum exhibits include photographs and documents outlining the history and development of policing in Ireland in the 19th/20th centuries.

Opening Hours:
Open seven days a week 9.45am – 5.45pm, last admission 5.15pm.
The State Apartments, the Undercroft and the Chapel Royal are open during these hours. Guided tours run hourly from 10am-4pm, with tickets available online and at the venue. Self-guided or group tours can be booked in advance.
Revenue Museum is open weekdays from 10am to 4pm.
Garda Museum and Archives are open to the public weekdays from 10am to 2pm.

All attractions on this site are closed Good Friday,  25 – 27 December & 1 January.
As Dublin Castle is a working Irish Government building, security, access to rooms and opening arrangements may be subject to change at short notice.
Please check the website for updates before visiting.

Contact & Pricing:
dublincastle.ie
dublincastle@opw.ie
museum@revenue.ie
museum@garda.ie
Tel: 046 942 2213 (General enquiries)
01 863 5601 (Revenue Museum)
01 666 9998 (Garda Museum)
Dame Street, Dublin 2
Adults from €8; concessions

Dublin City Hall

Dublin City Hall

Dublin City Hall was built between 1769 and 1779 (designed by Thomas Cooley). It is the headquarters of Dublin City Council and is the place where the Lord Mayor and City Councillors hold meetings to discuss present and future plans for Dublin.

City Hall was originally built as the Royal Exchange and was used by the merchants of Dublin as a financial centre until Dublin Corporation bought the building in 1851. It was renovated and re-opened in 1852. The building underwent a major refurbishment programme in 1998-2000 and has been restored to its former 18th century glory.

Situated in an historic quarter of Dublin, City Hall is neighbour to Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle.

Noteworthy features of the building are the magnificent Hall and Rotunda (an elegant space with a circular dome, like a small-scale version of similar buildings in Rome); statues of Daniel O’Connell, Thomas Davis, Henry Grattan, Charles Lucas and Thomas Drummond; and a set of twelve paintings representing scenes from the history and mythology of the city. There is a detailed brochure available in the lobby explaining the various art works.

Twelve columns support the dome of the Rotunda, with a mural between each one. There are twelve murals in total, eight of which depict a famous legendary or historical scene, such as St Patrick baptising the King of Dublin. The remaining four show the Coat of Arms of the four provinces: Ulster, Leinster, Connacht and Munster. In the centre of the floor, directly under the dome, a mosaic depicting the Coat of Arms of Dublin is encircled by four statues. These four statues are of figures that played an important role in the development of Irish society.

The Rotunda is impressive, not only for its elegance and beauty, but for its rich and vibrant history. Admission to the entrance hall is free and it can also be hired for events such as civil wedding ceremonies, book launches and fashion shows.

Opening Hours:
Open Mon to Sat: 10am – 4pm
Closed Sun, Bank Holidays, St Patrick’s Day, Good Friday, 24 – 26 Dec & 1 Jan
May be closed to the public when booked for private events and wedding ceremonies.

Contact & Pricing:
dublincity.ie/residential/arts-and-events/city-hall
cityhall@dublincity.ie
Tel: 01 222 2204
Dame Street, Dublin 2
Admission free

Dublin Civic Trust

Dublin Civic Trust

Dublin Civic Trust’s former headquarters is the only surviving Georgian building on historic Castle Street. Now fully restored to its former glory, this handsome merchant town house and shop is one of the last buildings of its type and period in Dublin to remain intact, and was until recently home to the Dublin Civic Trust’s offices and exhibition centre. No. 4 Castle Street is now in private hands.

Established in 1992 as an educational trust with charitable status, the Trust is an independent organisation that works to recognise and protect the city’s architectural heritage. It is dedicated to the principles of building identification, sensitive repair with minimal intervention, and the appropriate use of the city’s historic building stock.

Through conservation courses and seminars, the Trust educates the public about the resource value of period buildings. It promotes best practice for the repair and maintenance of historic buildings. It campaigns for the sensitive development and enhancement of Dublin’s historic city core in a manner that maximises the unique and irreplaceable resource value of Dublin’s historic building stock, streets and spaces.

The Trust produces major policy documents and undertakes consultancy work. It publishes the popular “Period Houses, A Conservation Guidance Manual”. Its series of books on the secondary streets of Dublin is also well regarded.

Since its establishment, the Trust has engaged in many projects relating to the built heritage of the city, including:

  • Recording structures on many of Dublin’s principal and secondary streets, such as Henrietta Street, Capel Street, Dawson Street and Aungier Street
  • Completely restoring five historic buildings (some in danger of demolition) through the Trust’s Revolving Fund; and reinstating additional buildings in conjunction with Dublin City Council
  • Compiling Architectural Conservation Area policies/inventories for Dublin City Council – O’Connell Street & Environs, and Thomas Street & Environs in the Liberties
  • Publishing historical and advisory leaflets on building typologies particular to residential streets in the Liberties area, and hosting lectures about caring for period homes
  • Publishing many inventory and policy documents on built heritage (e.g. an Inventory of Dublin Historic Street Paving and Furniture)
  • An evaluation of the historic core of Dublin as defined by its Georgian squares and major connecting commercial streets, commissioned by Dublin City Business Association.

Current projects of importance include an action plan for historic Thomas Street in The Liberties for Dublin City Council, with an emphasis on maximising its historic building stock; a study of the gable-fronted house tradition in Dublin of the 17th and early 18th centuries; and assessing options for saving a stretch of historic streetscape of North King Street that closes the vista of the north side of Smithfield.

Dublin Civic Trust regularly publishes books, pamphlets and information leaflets on the built heritage of Dublin. Its popular series of books on the secondary streets of Dublin brings the reader through the origins of each street, the history and architecture of their historic building stock, a full building inventory, and a vision for improvement. Other publications focus on specific topics of historical and architectural interest. You can buy these online.

Between 1992 and 2000, the Trust restored a number of historic buildings in the city – some of which were proposed for demolition – through the mechanism of a Building Conservation Revolving Fund. The Fund proved to be an innovative and cost effective method of saving and restoring endangered historic buildings in the city.

In total, five properties were restored by the Trust (Number 10 and 11 South Frederick Street, No. 21 Aungier Street, No. 4 Castle Street). The Trust was instrumental in saving further properties in conjunction with Dublin City Council such as the former City Weights and Measures on Harry Street and the rare mews buildings of Numbers 14 and 15 St. Stephen’s Green. The positive effects of the Fund went well beyond individual buildings, stimulating further improvements in key city centre streets such as South Frederick Street and Andrew Street.

To read a detailed account of the restoration of No. 4 Castle Street, see http://dublincivictrust.ie/building-projects/4-castle-street

Contact:
dublincivictrust.ie
info@dublincivictrust.ie
Tel: 01 874 9681
18 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7

Dublinia

Dublinia

Dublinia is a museum in which Viking and Medieval Dublin are re-created through life-size reconstructions.

Viking Dublin:  See what life was like on board a Viking warship. Learn about long and challenging voyages, weaponry and the skills of being a Viking warrior. Try on Viking clothes, become a slave and stroll down a noisy street. Visit a smoky and cramped Viking house, learn the Viking runic alphabet and hear their poetry and sagas.

Medieval Dublin: From Strongbow to the Reformation, experience the re-created sights, sounds and smells of this busy city. Learn of warfare, crime and punishment, death and disease. Visit a medieval fair, a rich merchant’s kitchen and a bustling medieval street.

The Past Today: Find out about Dublin’s rich past. Discover how we are influenced by the Viking and Medieval eras. See artifacts found in Dublin on permanent loan from the National Museum of Ireland, including those from the famous Wood Quay excavations. Take a flying visit over the Medieval city and immersive yourself in the audio-visual experience, a story of one man’s life growing up in Medieval Dublin.

Living History guides are on-hand to give you all the information you need to know about Viking weapons, the history of the barber surgeon, medieval medicine and herbs, and even showing you how to play Hnefatafl (Viking chess). The guides are stationed around the exhibition and are happy to answer all your Viking and Medieval queries.

Walking tours of Viking and Medieval Dublin take place at 11.00 am Thursday to Sunday. Information is available on your arrival at Dublinia. The tours do not require advance booking before your visit and your admission ticket covers the cost.

St Michael’s Tower: Dublinia’s late seventeenth century viewing tower belonged to the church of St Michael the Archangel, which once stood at the site now occupied by Dublinia. The medieval tower has 96 steps leading to a panoramic view of Dublin. Access to the viewing tower is weather dependent.

To generate atmosphere, the walking route through Dublinia is a little narrow so the attraction is less enjoyable at peak periods (especially when large tour groups may be in attendance). For this reason, visiting the site off peak is recommended.

Opening Hours:
Open daily from 10am – 6pm, last admission 5pm.
Guided tours of museum daily at 2pm (excluding July).
Walking tours of Viking and Medieval Dublin take place at 11am Monday to Saturday (excluding July).
Tours do not require advance booking and your admission ticket covers the cost.
€1 per ticket discount for online booking.
Closed 24 – 26 Dec

Contact & Pricing:
dublinia.ie
info@dublinia.ie
Tel: 01 679 4611
St. Michael’s Hill, Christchurch, Dublin 8
Adults €15; concessions

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory, opened in 1785, was the first building in Ireland specifically constructed for scientific research. Ireland’s greatest mathematician/scientist, William Rowan Hamilton, lived and worked here.

Originally part of Trinity College Dublin, it was purchased by the state in 1947 when the School of Cosmic Physics was established (as part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies).

The Observatory is used nowadays mainly for public outreach,  workshops/conferences, and as visitor accommodation. Rooms can also be hired by external parties.

Opening Hours:

DIAS Dunsink Observatory is open to the public for select events throughout 2024. Weather permitting, visitors can view celestial objects through the historic Grubb Telescope. There are also audio-visual presentations, lectures on a wide variety of topics in astronomy, and question and answer sessions. Open nights are free of charge.
Check the website for upcoming events and open nights.

“Race to Space” is a fully immersive escape room experience, a collaboration between DIAS Dunsink Observatory and Adventure Rooms Dublin.
Groups of 2-4 people are welcome to play.
Players under 18 must attend with a parent/guardian.

Contact & Pricing:
dunsink.dias.ie
dunsink.dias.ie/escaperoom
dunsink@dias.ie
Tel: 01 440 6656 / 087 629 4966
Dunsink Lane, Castleknock, Dublin 15
Admission from free – €50 per group for Escape Room

EPIC

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

You won’t find leprechauns or pots of gold here, but you’ll discover that what it means to be Irish expands far beyond the borders of Ireland through the stories of Irish emigrants who became scientists, politicians, poets, artists and even outlaws all over the world.

At EPIC, which was recently awarded Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards for the third year in a row (2019, 2020 and 2021), discover Ireland from the outside in and find out why saying “I’m Irish” is one of the biggest conversation starters, no matter where you are.

EPIC tells the moving and unforgettable stories of those who left the island of Ireland, and how they influenced and shaped the world. EPIC embraces the past and the future with 1,500 years of Irish history and culture housed in its atmospheric vaults.

Ireland’s only fully digital museum, experience this breath-taking story in state-of- the-art interactive galleries, complete with touch screens, motion sensor quizzes and a feast of powerful audio and video that bring Irish history to life. Watch characters from the past tell one-of-a-kind tales of adventure and perseverance, conflict and discovery, belief and community.

Adjacent to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum is the Irish Family History Centre, a way for visitors to discover their family story and explore their Irish heritage. The Centre allows visitors to sit with a genealogy expert for a 30-minute consultation and use interactive display screens to engage and uncover more about their Irish roots.
Genealogist consultations start at €60.

Opening Hours:
Open 7 days a week from 10am – 6.45pm, last entry 5pm.
Early opening from9am through July and August.
EPIC Museum is a self-guided visit.
Tour Guides are only available on request at least 1 week prior to the group’s visit.
There is an additional cost of €65 per EPIC Tour Guide
Closed Dec 24-26.

Contact & Pricing:
epicchq.com
Tel: 01-9060861
Unit 1, The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin 1
Adults €21; concessions

Farmleigh House

Farmleigh House

Farmleigh is an estate of 78 acres located in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Owned by the State, it provides accommodation for visiting dignitaries & guests of the nation, hosts high level Government meetings, and is also available to be enjoyed by the public.

Farmleigh remains a unique representation of its heyday, the Edwardian period, when wealthy industrialists had replaced landowners as the builders of large mansions in Ireland. Their tastes were eclectic, mixing a variety of architectural styles and decors.

Edward Cecil Guinness, first Earl of Iveagh, the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, built Farmleigh around a smaller Georgian house in the 1880’s. Many of the artworks and furnishings he collected for Farmleigh remain in the house on loan from the Guinness family to the State. The Benjamin Iveagh collection of rare books, bindings and manuscripts is held  in the Library.

The extensive pleasure grounds are a wonderful collection of Victorian and Edwardian ornamental features with walled and sunken gardens, scenic lakeside walks and a range of plants that provide both visual and horticultural interest throughout the seasons. The Estate also boasts a working farm with a herd of Kerry Black cows.

Opening Hours:
The grounds and estate are open 7 days a week, from 10am – 6pm, last entry 5pm. Access to Farmleigh House is by guided tour, and includes selected rooms on the ground floor.
Guided tours are available on a first come, first serve basis from 10.00 am to 5.30 pm, last entry is 4.30pm.

Please note that, as Farmleigh is a working Government building, the House may close at short notice.

Contact & Pricing:
farmleigh.ie
farmleighguides@opw.ie
Tel: 01 815 5914
Phoenix Park, Dublin 15.
Adults €8; concessions.
Free admission on the first Wednesday of each month.

Four Courts

Four Courts

The Four Courts is the iconic site where the country’s legal system was originally housed under one roof (built in the late 18th century). The complex was seriously damaged during the Irish civil war (1922). The Supreme Court, the High Court, the District Court and the Law Library are located here. The Round Hall and the Dome are particularly attractive.

On 14 April 1922 the courts complex was occupied by IRA forces opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. On 28 June the new National Army attacked the building to dislodge the “rebels”. This attack provoked a week of fighting in Dublin. In the process of the bombardment, the historic building was pretty much destroyed. The west wing of the building was obliterated in a huge explosion, destroying the Irish Public Record Office at the rear of the building. Nearly a thousand years of archives were destroyed by this explosion, the ensuing fire, and water poured onto the fire. [Thanks to Wikipedia for this information].

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 9am – 6pm.
There are no tours available but visitors are permitted in certain areas of the building. Visitors are also welcome to go into courtrooms and observe most cases. You cannot go into courtrooms where a case is being heard in camera (i.e., in private).

Before you make a visit, look up the Legal Diary section of the Four Courts website (www.courts.ie) to find out what cases are listed for hearing.

Groups are welcome to visit the Criminal Courts of Justice on a pre-arranged guided basis. The space available in courtrooms for members of the public is limited. Courtrooms are often crowded and it may be difficult to follow the proceedings without advance information.

Group visits include an opportunity to discuss the operation of the courts with a practising barrister. In addition, second level student groups can participate in a mock criminal trial playing the parts of judge, barrister, solicitor, accused, witness and juror. The School Visit Programme is booked for months in advance and sees thousands of second level students visiting the Criminal Courts of Justice every year. A programme for third level students provides Irish and overseas students with an opportunity to meet a judge for a Q&A session.

Contact:
courts.ie/four-courts
HighCourtCentralOffice@courts.ie
Tel: 01 888 6459 / 01 888 6000
Inn’s Quay, Dublin 7

14 Henrietta Street interior

14 Henrietta Street

Dating from the 1720s, Henrietta Street in Dublin’s North inner city is the most intact collection of early to mid-18th century aristocratic townhouses in Ireland. These vast houses were divided into tenements from the 1870s to the 1890s to house the city’s working poor.

Built as a townhouse for the members of Dublin’s ruling elite, 14 Henrietta Street was divided into 19 tenement flats in 1877, with some 100 people living under its roof by 1911. It remained a tenement house until the last families left in the late 1970s.

14 Henrietta Street tells the story of the building’s shifting fortunes, from family home and power base to courthouse; from barracks to its final incarnation as a tenement. The stories of the house and street mirror the story of Dublin and her citizens.

14 Henrietta Street seeks to help visitors deepen their understanding of the history of urban life and housing in Ireland, through people and memory. Taking the stories, personal experiences and objects of former residents of the tenements, coupled with new ongoing social and architectural history research, the Museum gathers, interprets and preserves Dublin’s tenement history.

Why tenement living developed in Dublin – After the Acts of Union were passed in Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, all power shifted to London and most politically and socially significant residents were drawn from Georgian Dublin to Regency London. Dublin and Ireland entered a period of economic decline, exacerbated by the return of soldiers and sailors at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The rise of the cotton mills of Lancashire had a negative impact on the Irish poplin industry.

For a time, Henrietta Street was occupied by lawyers. Dublin’s population swelled by about 36,000 in the years after the Great Famine, and taking advantage of the rising demand for cheap housing for the poor, landlords and their agents began to carve their Georgian townhouses into multiple dwellings for the city’s new residents.

Houses such as 14 Henrietta Street underwent significant change in use – from having been a single-family house with specific areas for masters, mistresses, servants, and children, they were now filled with families (often one family to a room,  the room itself divided up into two or three smaller rooms – a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom). Entire families crammed into small living spaces and shared an outside tap and lavatory with dozens of others in the same building.

For the safety of visitors, groups must be small, with no more that 15 on a tour at a time. Tour Guides accompany you through three floors of the house and its many stories, told through the walls of the house itself, recreated immersive rooms, sound and film.

As the building dates from the late 1720s with minimal intervention in the structure, some spaces are small and the steps of the original back stairs are uneven and steep. It’s advised that you wear comfortable shoes, and perhaps dress in layers, as parts of the house can be a little cold.

14 Henrietta Street recognised in European and Irish awards – The conservation of a  former tenement house at 14 Henrietta Street in Dublin’s north inner city was named Best Conservation/Restoration Project, and won the Special RIAI Jury Award at the prestigious annual RIAI Irish Architecture Awards. The museum also won the Silletto Trust Prize at the 2020 European Museum of the Year Awards.

Also of interest is the “Georgian Dublin Outdoor Walking Tour: Henrietta Street and Beyond”. This consists of a walk through Georgian Dublin, courtesy of the award-winning museum 14 Henrietta Street.

The tour begins on Henrietta Street, the first Georgian street in Dublin and the template from which all other Georgian streets followed. The tour charts the fortunes of the Gardiner Estate on Dublin’s Northside, stretching from Henrietta Street to Mountjoy Square, from its beginnings as the best address in town to its decline to tenement housing. It’s a story that mirrors the fortunes of Dublin City and many of its residents.

Visitors will learn about the man who built Henrietta Street, the ‘Jewel in the Georgian Crown’, the lavish lifestyles and social lives of families who lived there, including the Molesworths from number 14, and how one man’s vision and ingenuity created the world’s first maternity hospital.

2021 marked the 300 year anniversary of Henrietta Street, with the Gardiner family purchasing the land in 1721 and the development of the street starting soon after. The building of Henrietta Street marked the beginning of the golden age of Georgian Dublin when the cityscape was transformed into the one we see today. Taking visitors to some of Dublin’s most elite addresses and grand Georgian squares, the tour will explore the architectural and social history of the city and reveal the details of the lives lived behind the elegant red brick facades.

Opening Hours:
Wed to Sun: 10am – 4pm
Tours of the house run on the hour, starting at 10am.
Pre-booking is essential, guided tour only.

Georgian Dublin Outdoor Walking Tours run Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11.30am and 2pm. House tour and walking tour require separate bookings, but are discounted if booked at the same time.

There are frequent talks and culture nights scheduled outside normal opening hours.
Check here to see what’s on, or to book the regular tours.

Contact & Pricing:
14henriettastreet.ie
info@14henriettastreet.ie
Tel: 01 524 0383
14 Henrietta Street, Dublin 1
Adults €10; concessions

(Featured photo by Ross Kavanagh)