Last updated on February 6, 2024
Are you an art lover? Then read on, because the artistic heart of Ireland beats in Dublin. Find out what it’s all about in this article…
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Ireland is a multifaceted country. Its chequered history still influences Irish identity today: Celtic roots, Viking heritage, centuries of English rule, the long road to an independent republic and the rise from the poorhouse of Europe to the economically successful and modern society of today.
At the same time, the Irish are deeply rooted in their Gaelic language, Irish music, Irish dance, the art of storytelling and centuries-old traditions. Celtic myths and legends are also part of the living culture.
Today, the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle feel closer to the Atlantic than to continental Europe, which has nevertheless left its mark on the island’s art and architecture.
What kind of art can you expect to find in this conglomerate of influences? Definitely a highly interesting mixture of art styles, that’s for sure.
You’ll find the classic styles of the continent mixed with the colours of the island, the solitude of the moorland mountains, the vivid wildness of the Atlantic and the melancholic emotionality of Irish culture. Did I say melancholic? Nobody can celebrate more exuberantly than the Irish! This joie de vivre is also part of the culture – and the art.
I know Ireland and Dublin well, by the way, because we live south of Dublin. Originally from Germany, we have been living on the Emerald Isle (second home) for several years now, where we run our motorbike rental business in the summer (https://www.easycruiser.tours) and also offer guest rooms (https://www.the-view-accommodation.ie).
In Dublin you can admire Irish art in many beautiful places. By art I don’t just mean paintings, but also decorative artefacts and handicrafts. I’ll now tell you which places might be of interest to you:
National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery is home to an impressive collection of Irish and European artworks. From Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary pieces, there is much to discover here. Wonderful building, great exhibitions, highly recommended. See: https://www.nationalgallery.ie/.
The Hugh Lane Gallery
This gallery is known for its collection of modern and contemporary art, both Irish and European. Another highlight is the Francis Bacon Studio, which is faithfully reproduced here. Certainly a gem among Dublin’s galleries. See: https://www.hughlane.ie/.
Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)
IMMA presents contemporary art and regularly hosts changing exhibitions by Irish and international artists. Very impressive building with a beautiful garden. Overall: Impressive! See: https://imma.ie/.
This library and gallery offers a fascinating collection of rare books, manuscripts and works of art from different cultures and time periods. Wonderful ambience, great manuscripts, well worth seeing. See: https://chesterbeatty.ie/.
Science Gallery Dublin
The Science Gallery at Trinity College is a very special facility that fuses science, technology and art and presents them interactively. The exhibition is currently being redesigned, so it’s always worth taking a look at the homepage. See: https://dublin.sciencegallery.com/.
Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA)
The RHA showcases contemporary Irish art exhibitions and regularly hosts events, workshops and talks that promote the art scene. By artists for artists and art lovers. See: https://www.rhagallery.ie/.
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
Although mainly known for archaeological finds, this museum also offers a variety of historical artefacts and crafts. If you are interested in the Viking and medieval history of Ireland and artefacts of its time in Ireland, this is the place for you. See: https://www.museum.ie/archaeology.
National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History
This branch of the National Museum houses a wide collection of artworks and artefacts that show the history and culture of Ireland. The focus here is on more recent history and on clothing and decorative arts. See: https://www.museum.ie/decorative-arts-history.
As well as its historical significance, Dublin Castle also hosts exhibitions and events showcasing the country’s art and culture, particularly from the 17th century onwards. Great paintings and ornate furnishings. See: https://www.dublincastle.ie/.
Museums, galleries, libraries, you have plenty of choice in Dublin if you’re interested in art. I know, I know, it’s difficult to choose.
But I hope I’ve been able to give you a good overview of some of the options. Now you can have a look at the websites of the providers, or some of them, and make your choice.
The good news is that if you can’t see everything that interests you on one visit, you can always come back!
With this in mind, I hope you enjoy art – in Dublin!
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Picture credits cover picture: Photo by Derick McKinney on Unsplash