Museums in Dublin: a Few Highlights

By Jessica Murphy, Summer Study Abroad Blogger

My name is Jessica Murphy and I am a rising sophomore at Brown University from New York City. I am still not sure what I am majoring in—or as we call it, “concentrating”—but I am interested in fields ranging from international relations to development studies. In fact, I was initially drawn to the Brown/Trinity summer study abroad programme in Dublin because of my interest in political science. The possibility of studying contemporary international politics, participating in an internship, and living in a completely new country sounded like a remarkable opportunity. I am so glad that I decided to sign up, because it has truly exceeded my (already high) expectations! Dublin is a fascinating city with a rich and layered past, and I have really enjoyed learning and exploring every single day.

One of the major benefits of living in a city like Dublin is the abundance of cultural activities and events. Particularly, there is a plethora of diverse and fascinating museums. While I have not visited (nearly!) all of the museums in the city, I have been able to experience quite a few. Here is a brief sample of some favorites from the Dublin museum scene.

Kilmainham Gaol Museum

This museum is a former prison built in 1796 that played an important role in the 1916 Easter Rising and the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. It is currently one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dublin, particularly during the centenary of the rising. Many Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned, tortured, and executed here, and the tour is simultaneously upsetting and informative.

Number Twenty Nine, the Georgian House Museum

One of my personal favourites, this museum offers a glimpse of what life was like for a typical upper class family in Dublin during the Georgian period (1790 to 1820). The house was originally occupied by Mrs. Olivia Beatty and her many children in 1794 and opened to the public in 1991. The stark differences between the rich and the poor are highlighted throughout the various rooms, and the preserved furniture and artefacts all have a unique history.

National Museum of Natural History

A friend recently described this museum as a “dead zoo,” and while that label is not inaccurate, the Natural History museum is nevertheless interesting and entertaining. Although the animals are, indeed, no longer alive, they are lifelike and the selection is diverse. This museum is conveniently located on Merrion Square and offers free admission, so it’s definitely a worthwhile experience.

National Museum of Archaeology

This museum, located just around the corner from the Natural History Museum, is also free of charge and contains a vast range of exhibitions on Irish and world history. The permanent collection showcases countless artefacts, including many items from prehistoric Ireland, and the ancient history truly comes alive. Other exhibitions rotate seasonally, and the museum is guaranteed to pique your interest.

Dublin Castle

This attraction is not exactly a museum but rather a complex of government buildings and museums that is open to visitors. The castle was founded in 1204 and has played many important roles throughout Dublin’s history. Daily tours guide you through the State apartments, the Undercroft, and the Chapel Royal. The Chester Beatty Library and the Revenue Museum are also open to visitors and each contain an array of books and exhibitions.

Book of Kells

Finally, the Book of Kells is a must-see for all Trinity Students, since this ancient manuscript is located in Trinity’s Old Library located directly on campus. The book, which was created in the 9th century, contains the four Gospels of the New Testament paired with beautifully intricate designs. The Library is also a stunning room filled with hundreds and hundreds of carefully bound books, reminiscent of the schools centuries-old past.

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