Like all other European nations, Ireland has its own unique culture steeped in a rich and varied history. Because of this the Emerald Isle has no shortage of museums in which artefacts relevant to the nation’s history are on display.
National Museum of Ireland (Kildare Street)
If you only visit one museum in Ireland, this is the one to see. Located on Kildare Street in Dublin the museum’s priceless treasures are arranged into self contained exhibitions on all periods and subjects like the prehistory of Ireland and the archaeology of Viking Dublin. The treasure chamber houses one of the world’s best collections of Dark and Middle Age ‘gold hoards’ and treasures that were buried and hidden for ages. There visitors can marvel at the exquisite craftsmanship of the Celtic and Medieval gold ornamentation on display. One of the museum’s newest and most popular exhibits is titled “Kingship and Sacrifice”. This is an excellent and somewhat eerie display of preserved Bronze and Iron Age “bog bodies” that have been preserved better than most Egyptian mummies. These prehistoric noblemen recovered from Ireland’s peat bogs are the nearest you’ll ever come to being face to face with a Celtic man from the Bronze Age. Entry to the museum is free and guided tours are available.
National Museum of Ireland (Collins Barracks)
The collection house in the Collins Barracks National Museum of Ireland’s four floors is comprised of an eclectic collection of displays that cater more to the “specialist” than the general public. Nevertheless, if your tastes run towards the decorative arts, Irish country furniture, coins and silverware or scientific instruments then the Collins Barracks Museum is an excellent way to occupy one’s self on a rainy afternoon. Its recent addition on Irish military history tells the story of Irish soldiers and the warfare they waged in Ireland and abroad from 1550 until today. Included are uniforms, memorabilia and weapons. There’s no charge to enter the museum and guided tours can be arranged.
If you prefer to get off the beaten track as far as Irish museums are concerned, you might want to pay a visit to the:.
- National Leprechaun Museum (Dublin): to learn all there is to know about those mischievous mythological imps of Irish lore.
- Cork Butter Museum (Shandon, County Cork): in what used to be the world’s largest butter market in the world. This museum traces the Irish history of that famous dairy product. Included in the display are butter making and storage equipment and a 1,000 year old keg of butter.
- Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio (Dublin): If you’re an aficionado of “olde” radios, music boxes, gramophones and the like, then you’ll feel like a dog with two lampposts inside this museum.
- Quiet Man Cottage Museum (Cong, County Mayo): For devotees of the classic 1952 John Ford film starring John Wayne, the museum inside a replica of “White-O-Mornin”, the cottage used in the film, will bring back fond memories of the American boxer who returned to his Irish roots.