Places to visit: Museums

Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship

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.

Guided tours only.  Tours run Apr-Oct 10.00 am, 11.00 am, 12.00 pm, 2.00 pm, 3.00 pm, and 4.00 pm. Tours run Nov-Mar 11.00 am, 12.00 pm, 2,00 pm, and 3.00 pm. Closed 25-28 December.

www.jeaniejohnston.ie

Custom House Quay, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 473 0111.

Adults €10; concessions.

Little Museum of Dublin

Little Museum of Dublin ****

The Little Museum of Dublin is full of items donated by ordinary Dubliners and in a relaxed format charts the cultural and social history of Dublin in the 20th Century.

“U2: Made in Dublin”  tells the story of Ireland’s most famous band and features fan-donated musical rarities, signed albums, some great photography, a Trabant car and a Gibson Explorer. Curated by fans of the band, alongside some of Ireland’s best photographers and artists, the exhibition is a tribute to U2’s achievements and a celebration of their roots in the local music scene of the 1970s.

“Alfie Byrne – The Shaking Hand of Dublin” honours one of the most popular Dublin-born politicians of the 20th Century. Lord Mayor of Dublin a record ten times, Alfie Byrne was dubbed the “Shaking hand of Dublin” and “Alfred the Great” by the press, but Dubliners knew him simply as “Alfie.” Even today, nearly 60 years after his death, many Dubliners remember this short, dapper figure with affection.

Until now, he has never been the subject of a biography or an exhibition in his home town. However, his archive is now on permanent display in the Little Museum of Dublin. Among the exhibits are letters written to and from Alfie (including important new material relating to the Easter Rising), unseen photographs, cartoons, election materials, and two letters from men looking for Alfie’s help in finding a spouse.

The Editor’s Room is a small tribute to the famous Irish Times editor, R.M. Smylie, and to the much respected “newspaper of record”, the Irish Times. The room contains Smyllie’s desk, his portable typewriter, his desk lamp and many more bits and pieces from 150 years of newspaper history.

Open Mon–Sun & Bank Holidays 9.30 am–5.00 pm. Thur 9.30 am–8.00 pm.

Closed over the Christmas holiday period.

www.littlemuseum.ie

15 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

Phone 01 661 1000.

Adults €10; concessions.  Very popular guided tours available on the hour, every hour (at no extra charge). Free admission every Thurs from 6.00 pm-8.00 pm (sponsored by Diageo/Guinness); the last tour on Thursdays is at 7.00 pm.

Why not avail of the Green Mile walking tour of St Stephen’s Green, a new venture by the Little Museum? The Green Mile tour tells the story of a square which has been at the centre of Irish history for hundreds of years. Every year 8.1 million people walk through the park; it has long served as a backdrop for public and private drama, as well as being the setting for many great love stories. The tour begins with a short presentation at the Museum. Participants then embark on a 60-minute walk in the company of an expert local guide. The tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays at 11.00 am and are free with your entry ticket to the Little Museum. When booking your Saturday or Sunday entry ticket to the museum online, please select the Green Mile option.

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum **

The National Maritime Museum celebrates Ireland’s maritime heritage. See lighthouse lights, the SS Great Eastern display, artefacts recovered from the wreck of the RMS Leinster (torpedoed in 1918 with 500 deaths), and models of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company ships.

The museum’s greatest artefact is probably the building itself – it is one of the few custom built places of worship for sailors remaining intact in the world to-day. There are interesting exhibitions on wildlife around the Irish coastline, a maritime art gallery, a recreated ship’s radio room and a Titanic exhibition.

The Museum houses an extensive collection on all aspects of maritime heritage, from the massive anchor in the museum courtyard to tiny models put together by lighthouse keepers in the many lonely hours spent on duty. The museum is run by volunteers and by members of the community employment scheme.

Open daily 11.00 am-5.00 pm. Closed on Mondays during the winter.

www.mariner.ie

Mariners’ Church, Haigh Terrace, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

Tel: 01 2800969 (11.00 am-5.00 pm).

Adults €6; concessions.

National Museum Archaeology

National Museum (Archaeology)

The National Museum (Archaeology) is the national repository for all archaeological objects found in Ireland. It is home to over two million artefacts. See outstanding examples of Celtic and Medieval art, such as the Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Hoard. Admire the finest collection of prehistoric gold artefacts in Europe.

Permanent collections at the Museum:
The Treasury
Ór – Ireland’s Gold
Prehistoric Ireland
Kingship and Sacrifice
Viking Ireland
Medieval Ireland 1150 – 1550
Ancient Egypt
Ceramics and Glass from Ancient Cyprus

Temporary Exhibitions at the Museum:
Clontarf 1014: Brian Boru and the Battle for Dublin – the Battle of Clontarf was fought a thousand years ago, on Good Friday (23rd April), 1014.  Popular perception sees the battle as a great victory where the Christian king of Ireland, Brian Boru, defeated the pagan Vikings and drove them out of Ireland. But is this correct? The exhibition explodes myths and presents the evidence we have for what actually happened at Clontarf, what led up to the battle and what resulted from it.

Rites of Passage at Tara – the Mound of the Hostages, or Duma na nGiall, is the oldest visible monument on the Hill of Tara. The mound covers a burial monument called a passage tomb built in the period just before 3000 BC, which was used as a place to bury human remains for more than 1,500 years. The excavation of the Mound of the Hostages showed it to have a very complex history of construction and use. This exhibition displays some of the many exceptional finds uncovered during the excavation and describes some aspects of its cultural setting in the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.

Roger Casement: Voice of the voiceless – Although recognised for his role in the 1916 Rising, Casement’s humanitarian work investigating atrocities in the rubber trade in Africa and South America is less well-known. This exhibition uses some of the objects he collected during his time in Africa and South America to tell the story of this part of his life and the story of the victims of slavery and forced labour he worked for.

Open Tues-Sat: 10.00 am-5.00 pm; Sun: 2.00 pm–5.00 pm.
Closed Mon (including Bank Holidays).
Closed Good Friday, 25 Dec.

www.museum.ie

Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 677 7444.

Admission free.

Click here to consult the calendar of special events (when the page opens, click on the PDF documents at the top of the page).

National Museum Collins Barracks

National Museum (Collins Barracks) ****

The National Museum (Collins Barracks) houses the  national Decorative Arts and History collection, charting Ireland’s economic, social, political and  military progress through the ages. Displays range from silver, Asian Art, ceramic and glassware pieces to weaponry, furniture, and examples of folk life and costume.

A very interesting complex of buildings in its own right, the museum at Collins Barracks is extensive and warrants at least a half-day visit. A full day’s outing for visitors to Dublin could include an initial tour of the superbly atmospheric Kilmainham Gaol (only ten minutes away from Collins Barracks), followed by lunch in Brambles Café (on site at the National Museum), and concluding with a leisurely afternoon taking in the attractions listed below.

2018 permanent exhibitions include:

  • A Dubliner’s Collection of Asian Art – The Albert Bender Exhibition (a highly important Asian art collection given to the National Museum during the 1930s by the great Irish-American Albert Bender)
  • The Asgard – discover the historic Asgard yacht, learn about the 1914 Howth gun running episode and the Irish Volunteers, and meet Erskine Childers and Roger Casement
  • Reconstructed Rooms: Four Centuries of Furnishings
  • Eileen Gray – Regarded as one of the most influential 20th Century designers and architects, Eileen Gray (an Irish woman) was renowned in France as a designer in lacquer furniture and interiors. She began to experiment with architectural forms in the late 1920s. Hers was a new approach to shape, line, the use of colour, materials and textures; and the human sensibility of her work continues to inspire designers today.
  • The Way We Wore (250 years of Irish clothing and jewellery)
  • Out of Storage – this double-height gallery is designed to give the visitor an impression of the range of artefacts in the reserve collections of the National Museum. The 500 pieces displayed were chosen to reflect the collecting policies of the Museum through the years.
  • Irish Silver – this exhibition traces the development of the silversmith’s craft from the early 17th Century to the present day. It addresses the evolution of design and examines the mining, assaying, and crafting of this precious metal. It also illustrates the various uses of silver – religious, domestic and ceremonial – and by means of vignettes seeks to place the objects in their historical and economic context.
  • Reconstructed Rooms: Four centuries of furnishings from the Georgian era to contemporary Irish furniture design
  • Curator’s Choice: 25 special objects from the Museum’s collections chosen by the Museum’s own curators. Particularly noteworthy are the Fonthill Vase (the earliest documented piece of Chinese porcelain in Europe),  a 2,000 year old Japanese ceremonial bell , and the decorative gauntlets worn by King William at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
  • Airgead – 1,000 Years of Irish Coins & Currency
  • Irish Country Furniture – this exhibition displays the furniture typically found in the traditional rural Irish home (including a re-construction of a country kitchen). It shows a range of styles from different areas of the country, the functional nature of each piece, and the skill of native Irish craftsmen. The display also highlights the evolution and development of traditional furniture and furnishings as Ireland’s social and economic circumstances changed through the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Soldiers  & Chiefs (The Irish at War at Home & Abroad, 1550-2001). This very extensive exhibition uses original artefacts, letters, replicas and audio accounts to show the influence of Irish military participation over the centuries in a host of wars, both at home and abroad.

Current temporary exhibitions:

  • War in the Mud – the Irish soldier in Belgium in Summer 1917 (on the Western Front)
  • Contemporary Collection of Design & Craft – an exhibition illustrating the best of Irish contemporary craft and design from both home and abroad
  • 21st Century Irish Craft – an exhibition showcasing the best of Irish ceramics, glass, furniture, wood turning, jewellery, accessories and silverware.
  • Recovered voices: the Stories of the Irish at War, 1914-15 (About 21,000 Irishmen were already serving in the British Army when war broke out in 1914. ‘Recovered Voices’ explores what happened to them and the other 47,000 who joined in the first few years of the war. From the lush green fields of France in the summer of 1914, through that first Christmas in the trenches, to the sun dried beaches of Turkey in 1915, this exhibition unveils the complexity of Ireland’s part in World War One).
  • Ib Jorgensen:  A Fashion Retrospective – From the 1950s to the 1990s, Jorgensen was one of Ireland’s leading fashion designers, attracting a clientele from amongst the wealthiest and most stylish women in the country.
  • Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising – On show is one of the largest display of materials from the 1916 period. Many of these objects have never been on public display before while others, such as the Irish Republic flag which flew over the GPO, have been specially conserved. The exhibition explores the background to the 1916 Rising and introduces the visitor to the nuances of contemporary political events – the rise of the Catholic élite; the push for Home Rule along with the counter-moves of unionism; the increasingly nationalistic  tone of the arts and cultural movements of the period; and the political growth of republicanism. The exhibition also enables visitors to come in closer contact with the people and events of Easter Week through the everyday personal belongings of the participants – the clothing worn by the rebels and the British Army as they moved through the 1916 battlefield; the watches used to time the rebel despatches; the bullets and bayonets deployed; and first aid kits used to ease the plight of the injured and the dying. Alongside the rebels, the personal stories of civilians caught in the crossfire are represented with poignant and moving items such as a crucifix perforated by a stray bullet. The last letters of those sentenced to death are displayed: written in their own handwriting are the final thoughts, emotions and reflections of the leaders of Easter Week. The exhibition also provides accounts of the rebels’ families as they dealt with the aftermath of the Courts Martial, the executions and the imprisonments.

Open Tues-Sat: 10.00 am-5.00 pm
Open Sun: 2.00 pm-5.00 pm
Closed Mon (incl Bank Holidays)
Closed Good Friday and 25 December

www.museum.ie

Collins Barracks, Benburb Street, Dublin 7.

Tel: 01 677 7444.

Free admission.

Click here to consult the calendar of special events (when the page opens, click on the PDF documents at the top of the page).

National Museum Natural History

National Museum (Natural History) *****

The National Museum (Natural History) is located on Merrion Street. The building was constructed in 1856 to house the Royal Dublin Society’s growing collections, which had expanded continually since the late 18th Century.

The building is a ‘cabinet-style’ museum designed to showcase a wide-ranging and comprehensive zoological collection, and has changed little in over a century. Often described as a ‘museum of a museum’, its 10,000 exhibits provide a glimpse of the natural world that has delighted generations of visitors since the doors opened in 1857. Kids rate this venue a 5-star experience.

The building and its displays reflect many aspects of the history and development of the collections. It was originally built as an extension to Leinster House, where the Royal Dublin Society was based for much of the 19th Century. The building was designed by architect Frederick Clarendon.

In 1877 ownership of the Museum and its collections was transferred to the state. New funding was provided for the building, and new animals were added from an expanding British empire during the great days of exploration.

The Natural History division cares for the state collections in the disciplines of zoology and geology. The botanical collections of the Museum were transferred to the National Botanic Gardens in 1970.

The Natural History collections comprise approximately two million specimens. The largest of the collections, in terms of numbers, is the extensive insect collection, which accounts for about half of all specimens. There is a surprising amount of material from outside Ireland, much of this a legacy of the 19th Century British Empire, when Dublin was one of its most significant and populous cities, and Irish scientists and keen amateurs staffed the largest navy in the world and were involved in numerous expeditions to far away places.

The collections are used as a reference resource by staff and research visitors, and play an important role in the identification of specimens such as insect pests that may have considerable economic significance. Staff carry out field work, publish their own research and assist visitors who are also involved in scientific publications. Time is also spent acquiring new examples of the Irish fauna through regular fieldwork.

The ground floor is dedicated to Irish animals, featuring giant deer skeletons and a variety of mammals, birds and fish. The upper floors of the building were laid out in the 19th Century in a scientific arrangement showing animals by taxonomic group. This scheme demonstrated the diversity of animal life in an evolutionary sequence.

The collections on display include:

  • Irish Fauna
  • Mammals of the World
  • Steps in Evolution
  • Birds of a Feather
  • Mating Game
  • Crystal Jellies
  • Taxonomy Trail
  • Underwater Worlds

Unfortunately, the second and third floors of the Museum are not accessible to visitors at present for safety reasons. The balcony levels have been closed as there are too few emergency exits. A plan to address this issue has been developed but funding is not yet available.

Open Tues–Sat 10.00 am-5.00 pm, Sun 2.00 pm–5.00 pm.
Closed Mon (including Bank Holidays), Good Friday, Christmas Day.

www.museum.ie

Merrion Street, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 677 7444.

Admission free.

Click here to consult the calendar of special events (when the page opens, click on the PDF documents at the top of the page).

National Print Museum

National Print Museum ***

The National Print Museum is a museum of printing craft skills. It has a collection of over 10,000 objects that covers the whole range of the printing craft in Ireland. The collection consists of printing machinery and artefacts including printing blocks, metal and wooden movable type, ephemera, photographs, books, pamphlets, periodicals and one banner. The collection policy covers from the introduction of movable type to Ireland (in the 16th century) to the present day.

Open all year Mon-Fri 9.00 am-5.00 pm; Sat-Sun 2.00 pm-5.00 pm.
Closed Bank Holiday weekends.
Closed 21 Dec-Jan 1.

Self-guided tours. Also guided tours for individual visitors and pre-booked groups. The tour takes you through the history of printing, and the museum’s three part print-shop style exhibition (composing, printing and finishing areas). Caution – parking on site is very limited and parking “clampers” are active.

Free tour every Sunday at 3pm (excluding Bank Holiday weekends). No booking required.

Daily guided tours at 11.30 am and 2.30 pm, Mon– Fri. No afternoon tours on Wednesdays.

www.nationalprintmuseum.ie

Garrison Chapel, Beggars Bush Barracks, Haddington Road, Dublin 4.

Tel: 01 6603770.

Adults €3.50; concessions.

National Transport Museum

National Transport Museum

The National Transport Museum is Ireland’s only comprehensive collection of public service and commercial road transport. It contains some very rare and some unique items. The oldest items date from 1883, the newest from 1984. There are five main standalone categories – Passenger, Commercial, Fire & Emergency, Military, and Utility. There are 180 vehicles in stock, and 60 on display.

Open Sat, Sun, Bank Holidays 2.00 pm-5.00 pm. Also open 26 Dec – 1 Jan 2.00 pm-5.00 pm.

www.nationaltransportmuseum.org

Heritage Depot, Howth Demesne, Howth, Dublin 13.

Tel: 01-832 0427 (during opening hours) or 01-847 5623.

Adults €3; concessions.

Number 29 Fitzwilliam St

Number Twenty Nine Fitzwilliam Street Lower

Number Twenty Nine Fitzwilliam Street Lower is a Georgian House Museum. You go on a self-guided tour from the basement to the attic. The rooms are furnished with original artefacts from 1790-1820, illustrating how life was lived in the late Georgian era by upper middle-class Dublin families. The museum is sponsored by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in partnership with the National Museum.

The Museum is temporarily closed to facilitate the construction of a new ESB Head Office Complex. This construction work will be completed in late 2020.

Open mid-Feb to mid-Dec Tues-Sat: 10.00 am-5.00 pm.
Closed Sun, Mon.

Guided tours (on a first come, first served basis) each afternoon at 3.00 pm; group tours are on a pre-arranged booked basis (11.00 am).

www.numbertwentynine.ie

Fitzwilliam Street Lower, Dublin 2.

Email: numbertwentynine@esb.ie

Adults €6; concessions.

Pearse Museum

Pearse Museum

The Pearse Museum was once a school run by Patrick Pearse (of 1916 fame). Set in attractive grounds, the museum houses an exhibition, with an audio-visual show entitled “This Man Kept a School”.

Open Nov-Jan every day 9.30 am-4.00 pm.
Open Feb every day 9.30 am-5.00 pm.
Open Mar-Oct every day 9.30 am-5.30 pm.
Open Sundays and Bank Holidays at 10.00 am (the closing time varies, as per the seasonal opening hours above).
Closed over the Christmas period.

www.heritageireland.ie

www.pearsemuseum.ie

St. Enda’s Park, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin.

Tel: 01 493 4208.

Admission free. Café on site.