Brought to you by Tourism Ireland
Ireland today has a breadth of museums and art galleries that stand as a fascinating testament to the country’s long history. Here are some you won't want to miss:
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum (pictured left) is an interactive experience that tells Ireland’s emigration story of tragedy and triumph. The dramatic and inspiring stories of the Irish who travelled the world, from early times to the modern day, come to life. This digital museum features 1500 years of Irish history and relives some of the greatest achievements in music, literature, sport, politics, fashion and science.
THE ULSTER AMERICAN FOLK MUSEUM
The Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone documents the emigration of generations of Irish people to the Americas. The park is centred round the restored farmhouse of Thomas Mellon who left Tyrone in 1818 and eventually founded the Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh. Even by Tyrone standards that’s going some. The folk park boasts, amongst many other exhibits, a beautifully restored weaver’s cottage, a local schoolhouse and a blacksmith’s forge. The New World area consists of several type of log cabins, a Conestoga wagon (a “prairie schooner”), and a run-down of the dozen US presidents who had connections with Northern Ireland.
THE LITTLE MUSEUM
The Little Museum of Dublin is an eccentric exhibition of life in the capital, quirks, warts and all. Set in a Georgian townhouse on the edge of St. Stephen’s Green, this museum embarks on an idiosyncratic cultural path through the last century. The collection of 5,000 pieces – including a range of U2 memorabilia – follows a timeline that begins with a traditional drawing room commemorating 1900s Dublin. After having your fill of the rare ould times, you can stroll into the modern history section, which includes everything from clips of The Dubliners to letters from Samuel Beckett.
THE CÉIDE FIELDS
At the northern end of Co. Mayo farmers have been tending their crops for more than 5000 years. The Céide Fields are a snapshot of what the Irish countryside looked like some five millennia ago, proof that a highly organised, sophisticated and spiritually-minded farming community was working away here in happy isolation. Part of the bog has been cut away to reveal the collapsed stone walls of the ancient fields, and there’s an award-winning interpretative centre which presents an idea of how our early ancestors lived.
THE ULSTER MUSEUM
The Ulster Museum in Belfast is one of the best places in the world to get to grips with the nooks and crannies of the island’s history — it houses one of the world’s main archives on the topic. From Neolithic times to the Titanic and from the Mesolithic tools to the Spanish Armada — which foundered off the northerly seaboard of the island —the museum is a treasure trove of traditional and contemporary exhibits. You’ll also get the lowdown on linen, rope and glass manufacturing, industrial machines and Irish painting.
THE HUNT MUSEUM, LIMERICK
The Hunt is one of Ireland’s premier museums holding one of the finest private collections of art and antiquities in the world. First stop should be the Treasury to see to see the Greek coin made into a pendant, reputed to be one of the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot. The Dekadrachma of Syracuse carries an inscription: “Quia precium sanguinis est” (This is the price of blood). The coin could be the real deal – it is of ‘Greek, Sicilian or Southern Italian origins’ and dates to around the correct era.
DUNDALK COUNTY MUSEUM
Located in a beautifully restored late 18th century warehouse in the Carroll Centre at Roden Place in Jocelyn Street, Dundalk County Museum traces the lengthy history of the area. Exhibits range from a Heinkel bubble car (the vehicles were manufactured in the town in the 1950s) to a leather coat reputed to have been worn at the Battle of the Boyne.
THE TOWER MUSEUM
The Tower Museum, set within the walls of Derry-Londonderry, traces the city’s history from the early Christian days of Colmcille (one of the great missionaries of the earliest Celtic Church).
THE HUGH LANE GALLERY
The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin (below) houses one of Ireland’s foremost collections of modern and contemporary art. 2000 works are on display, ranging from the Impressionist masterpieces of Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas to works by leading contemporary artists, including a wing dedicated to Dublin-born artist Francis Bacon.