National Museum of Ireland

by Jessica on September 29, 2008

by Jessica | September 29th, 2008  

Perhaps the premier museum in all of Ireland is, fittingly, the National Museum of Ireland, which even has so many artifacts and objects in its collection that it has four separate locations. Visitors to Dublin have it easy, as three of them are in the capital city, while the fourth location is in Castlebar in County Mayo. Each location focuses on a different aspect of the museum’s vast collection. And each museum location has free admission, so even budget travelers have no excuse not to visit!

Archaeology – Kildare Street, Dublin

photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mike_Peel

The Archaeology section of the National Museum of Ireland contains more than two million objects, and the building itself was designed in the 1820s. This section focuses on objects from prehistoric times in Ireland. The earliest pieces in the museum’s collection date back to 7000 BCE. Highlights of a visit to the Kildare Street branch of the museum include the Tara Brooch (a silver brooch dating from 700 BCE), the Ardagh Chalice (a large chalice dating from the 8th century AD), and the Derrynaflan Hoard (a large chalice dating from the 8th century AD) – and there are always temporary special exhibits on display in addition to the museum’s permanent collection.

Location: On Kildare Street, not far from Trinity College
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00 | Sunday: 14:00 – 17:00
Closed Mondays (Including Bank Holidays), Christmas Day and Good Friday
Admission: Free

Decorative Arts & History – Collins Barracks, Benburb Street, Dublin

photo by Flickr user infomatique

The Decorative Arts and History section of the museum is relatively new, having only opened in 1997 in what was once a military barracks that had been closed in 1988. Housed in the Collins Barracks museum are several different categories of objects, including furniture, ceramics, weapons, glassware, clothing, jewelry, and even old money. This is also the site of the administrative offices of the whole National Museum of Ireland. This branch of the museum also hosts temporary special exhibits as well as showcasing objects from the permanent collection.

Location: On Benburb Street, near the River Liffey
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00 | Sunday: 14:00 – 17:00
Closed Mondays (Including Bank Holidays), Christmas Day and Good Friday
Admission: Free

Natural History – Merrion Street, Dublin

photo by Flickr user infomatique

The Natural History Museum has more than one million specimens in its collection and more than 10,000 exhibits, all of which showcase animals from around the world.
In July 2007, a granite staircase in a private part of the museum collapsed, injuring 11 people. The 150-year old building was then closed for restoration work, and as yet there’s not a projected date for re-opening. Check with the museum’s website (listed below) for more information before you go.

Location: On Merrion Street, not far from St. Stephen’s Green
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00 | Sunday: 14:00 – 17:00
Closed Mondays (Including Bank Holidays), Christmas Day and Good Friday
As this is written, the Natural History Museum is closed to the public; check the website for the most current information.
Admission: Free

Country Life – Turlough Park, Castlebar

photo by Wikimedia Commons user Shanehahaha

The only branch of the museum not in Dublin, the Country Life Museum is the newest of the museum’s sections. It opened in 2001 just outside Castlebar in County Mayo and showcases elements of Irish life since 1850. Part of the museum is housed in the historic Victorian Turlough Park House (the house itself dates from the 1800s, and some of it is furnished as it might have been in 1900), although most of it is in a building constructed right next door just for the museum. The exhibits cover four floors and are dedicated to such topics as farming, fishing, customs, festivals, crafts, home life, and clothing.

Location: Just outside Turlough Village, 4 miles East of Castlebar on the N5
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00 | Sunday: 14:00 – 17:00
Closed Mondays (Including Bank Holidays), Christmas Day and Good Friday
Admission: Free

More Information: The National Museum of Ireland’s official website, with information about each location, is here. You’ll find links to each of the four museum sections on the main museum home page.

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