Last updated on February 6, 2024
Are you a museum fan? If you have clicked on this article, the answer is probably: Yes!
I feel the same way, not always, but every now and then. I like history and where can you get more history than in museums? Maybe in history books or reports, but seeing really old things live gives you more of a feeling for times long gone than just reading about them, doesn’t it?
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And fortunately, the days of dusty artefact collections with hard-to-read scientific texts on boring glass display cases are long gone. Today, museums are often interactive, visually appealing, multimedia and entertaining – great and not boring at all.
Dublin is the best example of this. No wonder, as the eventful history of the city and the island really invite you to be told in an exciting way!
I know Dublin quite well, by the way, as I live not far from there. Although my family and I are from Germany, we have been living (as a second home) in Ireland, south of Dublin, for several years now. We run our motorbike rental business here in the summer (https://www.easycruiser.tours) and also offer guest rooms (https://www.the-view-accommodation.ie).
Below I have written down a number of nice museum tips in Dublin for you:
Did you know that Dublin and the east of Ireland were ruled by Vikings for over 200 years? They also founded several Irish cities and strongly influenced Ireland’s maritime trade. Even today, there is evidence of Scandinavian Viking genes in the Irish population. Dublinia interactively tells the story of the Vikings in Ireland, reports from the Middle Ages and provides insights into the archaeology involved. One of my absolute favourites, I have been to the exhibition several times. See: https://www.dublinia.ie/.
The Jeanie Johnston
This museum is a boat, more precisely a sailing ship in Dublin harbour. The beautiful three-master is a replica of one of the ships that thousands of Irish people used to leave the island around 1850 to escape the Great Famine and start a new life in North America, New Zealand or Australia. Highly recommended! See: https://jeaniejohnston.ie/.
EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum
What do John F. Kennedy, Billy the Kid, Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly have in common? They are Irish-Americans, the descendants of Irish people who emigrated to America, of whom there are over 40 million today. By comparison, Ireland itself has a population of around 5 million and Northern Ireland another 1.8 million. The EPIC tells the stories of the emigrants, the influence of the Irish in the world and what it means to be Irish. The museum is right next door to the Jeannie Johnston, so you can visit both together. See: https://epicchq.com/.
Custom House Visitor Centre
You will also find the Custom House in the Docklands. The mighty historic building on the waterfront alone is very impressive. The Visitor Centre contains several exhibitions, such as River Gods, Imports&Exports or 1791, the opening of the Custom House. See: https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/custom-house-visitor-centre/.
One of Ireland’s most famous attractions is this old prison. For over 100 years from 1796, rebels from the Irish Wars of Independence, common thieves and Dublin’s most serious criminals were held here. From the Mouth Robbery to the Civil War, the Gaol tells the story of Ireland and Dublin from its unique perspective. See: https://www.kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie/.
GPO means General Post Office, because the magnificent building of the Post Office is the host of this museum, which is by no means about the post office. The GPO Museum tells the story of the 1916 Easter Rising, which was the prelude to the establishment of the Free Republic of Ireland in 1922 and ultimately led to Ireland’s independence from Britain. See: https://www.anpost.com/Witness-history.
GAA stands for Gaelic Athletic Association, the sports association that organises the Gaelic, i.e. the original Irish sports. In Croke Park Stadium, where the GAA has its headquarters, you will also find the GAA Museum, where you can learn a lot about these Irish sports. By the way, hurling is the fastest ball game in the world played on grass! What is hurling? Hurling is even more important to the Irish than football (soccer) is to the Germans – find out more at the GAA Museum! See: https://crokepark.ie/gaamuseum.
MoLI – Museum of Literature Ireland
William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney are just some of the poets, thinkers and writers Ireland has produced. Storytelling is part of Irish heritage and is still highly valued today. MoLI works in partnership with the National Library of Ireland. See: https://moli.ie/.
National Library of Ireland
In the “National Memory of Ireland” you will find many interesting exhibitions on historical events, epochs or important Irish personalities. See: https://www.nli.ie/.
The National Wax Museum
If you’ve been to Madame Tussaud’s in London (I have), you’ll know what to expect, as the first Wax Museum in Dublin was also founded by Madame Tussaud in 1804. See: https://waxmuseumplus.ie/category/attractions/.
National Museum of Ireland
In the imposing Collins Barracks you will find the National Museum with a colourful variety of exhibitions on the Irish wars, clothing through the ages, military history, modern arts and crafts, furniture and furnishings, silver, porcelain and decoration, coins and objects. See: https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/Museums/Decorative-Arts-History/Exhibitions.
National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland
The Leprechaun is the Irish leprechaun. Leprechauns, fairies, myths and magic await you at the Leprechaun Museum – why not take a look… See: https://www.leprechaunmuseum.ie/.
The Little Museum of Dublin
The Little Museum tells little stories with dedication. City history, the band U2, a treasure hunt and a tour of St Stephen’s Green will keep you entertained. See: https://www.littlemuseum.ie/.
Irish Whiskey Museum
What would Ireland be without whiskey? Right, pretty dry….Irish whiskey is famous all over the world and here you can find out what it’s all about. See: https://irishwhiskeymuseum.ie/.
National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
And another national museum – this one is all about natural history: Irish fauna, natural history, and mammals from around the world. From dinosaur fish to the ancient Irish deer and today’s wildlife. See: https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/Museums/Natural-History.
National Museum at Kildare Street
This National Museum is all about archaeology with exciting exhibitions on ecclesiastical art, ancient artefacts, gold and Vikings. See: https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/Museums/Archaeology.
Chester Beatty Library
If you are interested in different religions and beliefs, this is the right place for you. In this museum you will find writings, manuscripts and illustrations of many religions from all over the world beautifully presented. See: https://chesterbeatty.ie/exhibitions/.
14 Henrietta Street
The Georgian townhouse provides the historical setting for years of the city’s history from the perspective of ordinary Dubliners. See: https://14henriettastreet.ie/whats-on/house-tours/.
Just outside the city centre is the Pearse Museum, a magnificent building in St Enda’s Park. Patrick Pearse was a teacher and writer who championed the Irish language and culture during British rule. He wrote and taught in Gaelic and founded the first Gaelic-language school in 1908, which now houses the Pearse Museum. He was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916 and was executed along with other rebels in Kilmainham Gaol (now also a museum, see above) after its failure. See: https://www.pearsemuseum.ie/.
National Print Museum
If you like telling stories as much as the Irish do, you’ll want to print them on paper at some point – that’s what the Print Museum is all about. Here you can see printed matter and printing presses from the early days of printing and even get a demonstration. See: https://www.nationalprintmuseum.ie/.
Irish Museum of Modern Art
As the name suggests, there are several permanent and temporary exhibitions of modern art. See: https://imma.ie/whats-on/?category=exhibition.
Irish Jewish Museum
Again, the title is self-explanatory. There is an exhibition on 2000 years of Jews in Europe, a photography exhibition, memorabilia of outstanding Jewish personalities and Judaism in Ireland. See: https://jewishmuseum.ie/.
Irish Rock`n Roll Museum
And finally, a “treat”: The Irish Rock’n Roll Museum is located in the heart of Temple Bar and celebrates rock music in general and Irish stars, such as the band U2 or Thin Lizzy in particular. If you are a music fan, there is no way around this museum – is it really a museum? It doesn’t matter! It’s definitely cool! See: https://irishrocknrollmuseum.com/.
Whether you’re just looking for a bit of entertainment on a rainy day or you’re interested in a specific topic in detail, you should find what you’re looking for in Dublin’s museums.
From art, Irish culture and history to sport, there is a wide range of things to see and do in the Irish capital.
I wish you many interesting museum visits and lots of fun in Ireland!