Best museums to visit in Ireland
Best museums to visit in Ireland
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Ireland’s many museums focus on aspects of its history, from prehistoric origins to the struggle for sovereignty that led to the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 and beyond. Here are just some of the best.
National Museum of Ireland
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
The National Museum of Ireland consists of four different rooms, each with a special significance. On Dublin’s Kildare Street, the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology houses a rich collection of prehistoric artifacts from home and abroad, particularly elements of Celtic art and many incredibly well-preserved Iron Age swamp bodies exhumed from Irish peat bogs.
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Kildare Street, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 677 7444
Brive gold boat, National Museum of Ireland, Dublin | © Ardfern / WikiCommons
National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
Just off Merrion Street, the closet-style natural history museum known as the Dead Zoo – protects zoology and geology through its many exhibits, which include full-sized skeletons of the long extinct giant deer that once lived in Ireland,
National Museum of Ireland – Natural History, Merrion Street Upper, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 6777444
Natural History Museum, Dublin, Ireland | © Miguel Mendes / Flickr
National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Art and History
The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barracks has a permanent exhibit posthumously celebrating renowned Irish furniture designer Eileen Gray, examples of pioneering Irish craft in the 21st century, and other collections that focus on both Irish and international design. Perhaps its most famous piece is the Fonthill Vase, the earliest documented piece of Chinese porcelain in Europe. Temporary exhibitions were added in 2016 to commemorate the centennial of the 1916 Uprising, some of which are still in operation at the time of writing.
National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History, Collins Barracks, Benborb Street, Arran Quay, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 677 7444
Museum of Decorative Art and History | © William Murphy / Flickr
National Museum of Ireland – Country Life
The fourth and final branch of the National Museum of Ireland is based in County Mayo in the west. Opened in 2001, the Country Life Museum tells the story of how rural Ireland lived from 1850 to 1950.
National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Thurlow Park, Gortnafall, Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, +353 94 903 1755
Glasnevin Cemetery Museum
Voted Ireland’s #1 museum in 2016. TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards winner and previous winner of the International Museum in the Museum UK and the Heritage Award for Excellence, the Dublin Cemetery Museum in Glasnevin, which opened in 1832, offers a fascinating insight into Irish history.
It was one of the first burial grounds to open after the repeal of the law forbidding Irish Catholics to bury their dead in their cemeteries. The very man who fought for the repeal of that law, political leader Daniel O’Connell, is now buried here along with other famous cultural and revolutionary figures such as Michael Collins and Constance Markiewicz. The museum’s Milestone Gallery contains life histories with about 200 people buried there.
Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Finglas Road, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 882 6550
Provided by the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum
A key attraction in Ireland’s oldest city, the Medieval Museum is located in the award-winning cultural area of Waterford, known as the Viking Triangle. The only medieval museum in the country, it is home to artifacts such as Waterford’s Great Crystal Roll (1373) and Europe’s only set of medieval gold clothing. The museum also has two original medieval chambers within its borders, reached through a spiral staircase dating back to the 13th century.
Medieval Museum, Shopping Center, Waterford, Ireland, +353 51 849 501
Waterford Medieval Museum | © William Murphy / Flickr
The Hunting Museum in Limerick consists of a famous collection of artifacts bequeathed by historian and antiquarian John Hunt and his wife Gertrude. The museum now houses antiquities and works of art from the Mesolithic era of Ireland and ancient Egypt in the Georgian Custom House building by the Shannon River. Other notable works include works by Jack B. Yeats, Renoir, Picasso and Irish fashion designer Sybil Connolly.
Hunting Museum, Rutland Street, Limerick, Ireland, +353 61 312 833
Night view of the Custom House front from Clancy Strand | © Hunting Museum / WikiCommons
The Blasket Center Museum, located on a stunning headpiece on the shoulder of the Dingle Peninsula, features exhibits related to the history of the Blask Islands, inhabited until the 1950s by a self-sustaining Irish community. The center itself has a panoramic view of Great Blask Island, home to three of Ireland’s most famous writers – Paig Sayers, Thomas Corriochthain and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin.
Blasket Center, Ballynaraha North, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland, +353 66 915 6444
Provided by Blasket Archives Center / Cartlann Ionaid a Bhlascaoid
Chester Beatty Library
Throughout his life, the early 20th-century tycoon Sir Alfred Chester Beatty traveled the world amassing a collection of world-class Islamic and Far Eastern rarities, from Arabic texts and muraqqa albums to Japanese scrolls. His most precious possessions also include biblical papyri and prints by European artists such as Albrecht Dürer. Located on the grounds of Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library is the only Irish museum to date to win the title of European Museum of the Year (it won in 2002).
Chester Beatty Library, Clock Tower Building, Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 407 0750
Chester Beatty Library | © William Murphy / Flickr
Céide Fields Visitor Center.
The world’s oldest known field systems can be found in Mayo County and the award-winning Visitor Center, complete with educational exhibits and an audiovisual show. Tours, 45-60 minutes, are also available from the surrounding landscape, where Stone Age houses, stone walls and tombs have been preserved in incredible condition, buried under a peat bog. After the tour, visitors can warm up in the museum’s tea rooms.
Céide Fields, Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland, +353 96 43325
Céide Fields | © Rowan McLaughlin / Flickr
Dublin’s Little Museum
Dublin’s Little Museum is worth a visit in only one place – it’s in a beautifully decorated Georgian townhouse on St. Stephen’s Green, but its exhibitions highlighting the city’s rich history are a real highlight. Current exhibits include one devoted to the development of the GAA (Gaelic Athletics Association) in Dublin, and another that closely examines the city’s most famous band called U2: Made in Dublin.
The Little Museum of Dublin, 15 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 661 1000
Visit the Little Museum of Dublin. Get a history of the city in less than 30 minutes and have a lot of fun at the same time. Perfect for visitors to the #Dublin Hotel and for tourists from out of town. Book in advance to secure the tour of your choice and avoid lines. #lovedublin #littlemuseumofdublin
Posted by TheLittleMuseumOfDublin () on May 12, 2017 at 1:49 am PDT
Opened in 2012, the expansive Titanic Belfast is one of the newest attractions in Ireland, but has already been very successful, attracting more than 800,000 visitors in its first year and being named Europe’s leading visitor attraction in the prestigious World Travel Awards in 2016.
Built on the site where the ship itself was built before the ill-fated 1912 raid, the impressive corner exhibition space houses nine interactive galleries, all reflecting the history of one of the world’s most famous maritime disasters.
Titanic Belfast, 1 Olympic Way, Queens Road, Titanic, Belfast, Northern Ireland, +44 28 9076 6386