Dublin Top 10 -Museums
Dublin Top 10 Museums
Dublin is well served with a number of excellent museums which cover various facets of Ireland’s heritage over the millennia. Most of the following are in the city centre and it would be easy enough to visit a few of them in one day. Those outside the centre are served by public transport although parking for private cars is limited. Entry is free unless otherwise noted. During the Covid-19 lock down some of these museums have developed virtual tours, which can be accessed by clicking on the links to help plan your visit.
1 National Museum, Kildare Street, Dublin
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
The National Museum (Archaeology branch) is beside the Dáil (National Parlement) on Kildare Street, 5 minutes walk from Grafton Street in Dublin city centre. The National Library is in the same complex. The Museum displays items from the Stone Age to the Early Modern Period. Highlights include a huge range of Bronze Age gold and other metalwork, an amazing collection of Viking artefacts from Dublin archaeological digs and a rich collection of Dark Age and Christian ornaments including the Ardagh Chalice, the Moylough Belt Shrine and the Tara Brooch. The Kingship and Sacrifice exhibition includes leathery-looking remains of human bodies which were preserved in Irish Bogs for about 2,000 years. The site has ramps and access for wheelchair users.
2. National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts
Collins Barracks, Benburb St, Dublin 7. Luas Green line stops here.
This branch of the National Museum explores Irish history through fashion, furniture, jewellery, silver, money and other decorative arts mainly spanning the years from the 1760s to the 1960s. One section is devoted to Eileen Grey, an Irish pioneer of the Modernist movement in architecture and furniture designer who was associated with Le Corbusier among others. There’s a great collection of Asian art bequeathed by Alfred Bender including the Fonthill Vase, the oldest known example of Chinese porcelain to have reached Europe. Eight galleries cover Irish military history from the 16th century to the present called Soldiers and Chiefs, with a section dealing with the 1916 Easter Rising and the subsequent Irish Wars from 1919 to 1923.
3 Museum of Natural History
Merrion Street, Dublin 2.
Dubliners call this the Dead Zoo and it holds a wide range of stuffed animals, birds and insects as well as skeletons. It’s housed in a Victorian building on Merrion Square three minutes walk from the National Art Gallery and beside Leinster House, the national parliament. The Dead Zoo has enough to delight children and adults alike. There is a gated entrance with a ramp to entrance allowing for access by wheelchair users and there are lifts to galleries and accessible toilets.
4. Chester Beatty Museum
Dublin Castle, Dublin 2. Luas – Trinity ( Green line). Bus 27, 49, 54, 77A, 123, 150, 151.
The museum is situated in the grounds of Dublin Castle on Dame Street and houses the collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty who collected artefacts from various world cultures. It includes Christian treasures such as illuminated gospels and early bibles, 15th century Qurans and Burmese early Buddhist texts. Described by Lonely Planet as one of the best museums in Europe, it’s the place to visit to see treasures from the Middle East, North Africa, China and other parts of Asia. Links to Chester Beatty 3D virtual tour here. Museum with illustration and images from the Museum’s Collection.
5 EPIC Museum
CHQ Custom House, 5orth Wall Quay, Dublin 1. Luas (red) George’s Dock or Dart Connolly Station.
EPIC is one of Dublin’s newest museums, opened in 2016 and recently named one of Europe’s leading tourist destinations. Located in the Dublin Docklands the interactive museum gives a great overview of the history of Irish emigration around the world from early times to the present. The 20 digital galleries tell of Irish people who have influenced the world. The museum is housed in an old warehouse with vaulted brick ceilings, evoking life in Ireland through the centuries. Take a Virtual Tour of some of the rooms of the museum here.
6 Museum of Literature Ireland
86 Stephens Green, Dublin 2. Luas -2 mins walk from St Stephens Green ( Green Line). Bus 7,11,15,16,39, 44,46A, 140, 135. Parking at Stephen’s Green car park.
Based in beautiful Newman House on St Stephen’s Green, this is Dublin’s newest major museum and is dedicated to Ireland’s greatest writers. Storytelling has been an essential part of Ireland’s heritage for centuries and MoLI brings this rich inheritance to life through a series of immersive multimedia exhibitions and artefacts. The giants of Irish literature come alive and exhibits include the first edition of Joyce’s Ulysses. The Museum is a collaboration between University College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland. There are many resources online, but you may like this walk in Jonathan Swift’s Dublin starting at gates to Dublin Castle with a downloadable map All areas of the museum and galleries are fully accessible to wheelchairs, guide dogs are welcome and there are accessible toilets. For further information click on this link. The garden to the rear is an oasis of tranquillity in the bustling city centre. Entry fees apply.
The smaller Dublin Writers Museum on Parnell Square, beside Garden of Remembrance, is set in a beautifully restored Georgian building. Literature is viewed from a Dublin perspective with tours, exhibitions and readings. The Irish Writers Centre is next door
7. Little Museum of Dublin
15 St Stephens Green, Dublin 2. Luas Green Line top of Grafton St. Parking at Stephen’s Green Centre.
The Little Museum of Dublin, at the top of Grafton Street on St Stephen’s Green, is housed in a Georgian townhouse stuffed full of memorabilia. It relates the twentieth-century history of Dublin with each room telling a different part of the story. Features include the 1916 Rising, John F Kennedy’s 1963 visit to Dublin and modern pop stars like U2. The history of the city comes alive with its quirky displays. Link here for a talk by Professor David Dickson on the story of Dublin’s development from the arrival of the Vikings in 841 to the early 2000s. Entry fees apply.
8 Kilmainham Gaol
Inchicore Rd Dublin 8. Luas Red Line to Suir Road and 0.8 km walk. Bus:- from Aston Quay – No69, 79; from O’Connell Street no 14, 40. Park Museum Modern Art.
Kilmainham Gaol is about 4km to the west of Dublin city centre. In use for nearly 130 years, it has held rebels from uprisings in 1798, 1803, 1848 and 1867, some of whom were transported to the colonies in Australia. Many rebels from the 1916 Easter Rising were held and some were executed here. The Gaol has been used as the location for films such as In the Name of the Father. Link here for an online tour showing some details of the gaol. Entry is on a timed basis and is very busy with school groups especially from April to June so it’s best to plan to book later in the day. Entry fees apply.
9. Glasnevin Cemetery Museum
Finglas Rd, Dublin 11. Bus no 4, 9, 40, 83. Parking at Cemetary (paid).
Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, 4km to the north of the city centre, is on the grounds of Ireland’s largest graveyard, the last resting place for over a million people. These include many of Ireland’s heroes and guided tours will tell you of some of the people who rest here, both famous and less well known. Among the notables is Daniel O’Connell, buried in a mausoleum under a round tower which adults can climb. Michael Collins is also interred here, with people bringing fresh flowers to his grave each week. There is a memorial to those Irish service personnel who died in both world wars. A genealogy service is available with a large archive database of the people buried here for over 200 years. There is limited parking and there is access to the adjacent National Botanic Gardens.
10. Croke Park Museum
Jones Road, Dublin 1 Luas Red line to Connoly and 15 mins walk. Bus no 1, 7, 11, 13, 14, 16, 27, 29, 32, 33, 40, 41.
This museum of the Irish traditional sports of Gaelic football, hurling and camogie is located in Ireland’s premier sports stadium 2km north of the city centre. It tells the story of our national games from ancient times to the present and explores the importance of these sports to Ireland’s social and cultural life. Exhibitions include the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy Cups and the Hall of Fame. Entry is included with the Stadium and Skyline tours which can be booked here.