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There are technically 4 buildings that comprise the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. Each Building more than merits its own review, and this particular article will concentrate on the Archaeology Building on Kildare Street. Its location, in the south east of the city, near many other places of interest including the Natural History Museum, and the National Gallery of Ireland, combined with free entry, make this building a very interesting and essential part of any trail of central Dublin.
The museum is open from 10am - 5pm Tues - Sat, and 2pm - 5pm Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
There is no dedicated parking, nor any parking close by, but with the excellent Luas tram network running about the city from most major train and bus depots, and being a mere 5-10 min walk from the bustling Grafton Street, mean it is easily accessible by foot.
Upon entrance to the main building, you are greeted with one of the grander gift shops I have come across. No stuffy tacked-on side room here, instead, you find an airy circular pillared room, with a spacious thoroughfare through to the ground floor. I would recommend browsing this room for possible gifts on your way out.
Through to the main ground floor exhibition space, the airy feel continues, with plenty more open space, and grand views up to the overlooking balconies of the first floor. This floor contains many highlights and I doubt I could list them all in one review. Worthy of particular note is the 'Ór - Ireland's Gold' collection, rightly taking pride of place in the spacious centre of the floor. Here there are some simply beautiful original pieces of Ancient Irish gold craftmanship, intricate torcs, and delicate crescent shaped gold collar pieces.
Elsewhere on this floor there are various permanent collections: 'Pre Historic Ireland' including a huge example of an early log-boat , and 'The Treasury', containing many examples of early Christian culture. Another one of my personal favorites is the 'Kingship & Sacrafice' wing. Here there are some incredible examples of bog-bodies. Some people may find this idea ghoulish, but they are amazingly well-preserved, and respectfully treated: each body has its own enclosed space, giving you an intimate face-to face experience.
Once you have browsed the ground floor, head upstairs to continue the history of Ireland, along with sections based on lands further afield shuch as Rome, Cyprus, and Egypt. The Viking Ireland wing includes a large array of metal work, including weapons and armour. Elsewhere there are fine examples of Cypriot pottery, and Roman artefacts. The Ancient Egyption collection is fairly small, but still worth visiting. It includes a gilt and painted cartonnage case of the mummy Tentdinebu, and many tomb artefacts and examples of jewellery.
The beauty of this museum is you can take as little or as much time to wander around as you want, as its spacious areas never feel stuffy or claustraphobic. My partner spent four hours on the ground floor alone! (to be fair she is doing a PHD on Ancient Irish History).
I could go on for hours about the exhibitions, but the best way to find out is to explore and digest it all for yourself. This is definitely one of the highlights of a visit to Dublin.
This museum is located in the heart of Dublin, right beside the Dáil( essentially the Irish parliment), and is just up the road from Trinity College also. Its free and not overly big, its easliy reached by 5 mins walk from anywhere around o'Connel Street and so it is a very good and well spent evening or couple of hours.
the museum itseld is split themeaticaly. In the main are there is a large exhibition showing a lot of prehistoric artefacts. In particular the Bronze Age goldwork exhibiton is truly breathtaking. Of this is what must be admitted to ba a rather poor room containing a number of Iron age artefacts, before entering the Treasury. This houses some of the best and most famous artefcat like the Ardagh chalice, although the room itself is pretty appauling and a bit grotty.
Upstairs is a number of exhibitions on life and death in the Roman world, later medieval artefcts/ Norman period, and an exhibition on the Vikings among others. Most of the Viking artefacts are from the Fishamble street excavationa dn are extremely well preserved.
The highlight of the museum currently for me is a tie between an exhibition containing the bog bodies pertainig to kingshiop and sacrifice. The Bog bodies are so well preserved this is quite breathtaking, in particular well enoughto be able to see the fingernails and prints of some. Contained currrently in this exhibition also is the Gundestrup cauldron on loan from Scandinavia. The other highlight is the exhibition on the excavations at the hill of Tara which have only recently been published.
there is also a cafe downstairs, but sadly ridiculously overpriced and not even that tasty. So bring aome of mummys sandwiches.
~ ~ The National Museum of Ireland houses all the countries treasures, and contains artefacts dating from as early as 7000 BC right up to the 20th century. It is in fact split into two buildings. The main building, on Kildare St., houses the Antiquities and Industry sections, while the Natural History Museum is located at Leinster Lawn on Merrion Row. The Natural History Museum actually merits an opinion of its own, and here I will concentrate solely on the main Museum in Kildare Street. The various exhibitions at the Museum are both extremely interesting and varied, many dating back thousands of years, and I hope that here I will be able to give you just a little insight into the many thousands of antiquities and artefacts that are on display. Viking Age Ireland ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ This is a fascinating collection of Viking artefacts dating from the time the country was inhabited by the Norsemen, from about 800 – 1200 AD. During the 1980’s a complete Viking village was unearthed at Wood Quay, while excavations were taking place to lay the foundations for the new Dublin Corporation headquarters. This is the area between Christchurch Cathedral and the River Liffey, and it is thought that this village, which was remarkably preserved, was one of the very earliest Viking settlements in Ireland. The government of the day didn’t see fit to save this unbelievable archaeological treasure, (to their eternal discredit!) which was one of the best examples of its kind in the world, but at least building was halted for long enough to allow most of the ancient relics to be removed, and it is these relics that form the foundation of the exhibition. For a fuller appreciation of Dublin's Viking past, you should also pay a visit to “Dublinia”, which is a small replica of the actual village, located at St. Michael's Hill, beside Christchurch Cathedral. The Treasury ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ By far the most popular attraction at the Museum is the Treasury, where Bronze and Iron Age Gold objects may be seen. This collection was started as long ago as the late 1700’s by the Royal Irish Academy, and even to the present day finds continue to be discovered. During the 1980’s, a new discovery was unearthed called the “Derrynaflan Hoard” at an ancient monastery near Killenaule in Co. Tipperary, and more recently still yet another find was made in Co. Meath called the “Donore Hoard”, that consists of two bronze discs and a cast bronze handle in the form of an animal head with a ring grasped in its jaw. In truth, it is still a bit of a mystery where Ireland’s gold actually came from, but it is known that copper, bronze and gold were all being worked here as early as 2000 BC. Early metalworkers shaped gold into very thin discs or crescent shapes known as “lunalae”, and then decorated them using a raised pattern technique. This method of gold manufacture was in common usage until about 1,000 BC, when a method of forming the gold into bars and strips was discovered, that then allowed it to be formed into “torcs”, (neck ornaments) earrings and even armbands. Later still, gold wire and foil were cast to produce jewellery and items such as dress fasteners. Most of the hoards discovered in Ireland were not uncovered as a result of archaeological expeditions, but by accident. Farmers ploughing their fields and cutting turf (peat) for their fires, and people quarrying for building materials, quite often found these treasures buried in the peaty soil, which is well known for its preservative qualities. The very earliest finds were made in the 17th century, when a total of four hoards were uncovered in a bog near Cullen in Co. Tipperary. Greed got the better of the finders, however, and sadly the biggest part of these finds was melted down.
A few artefacts still remain on view at the Museum. ~ ~ One of the most magnificent objects on display is the “Ardagh Chalice”. This is a solid silver bowl used to dispense wine at Mass that was found in Co. Limerick in 1868, where it was thought to have been hidden during the 10th century, during a time of the many religious persecutions of Roman Catholics in the area. Perhaps the most famous of all is the “Tara Brooch”, because of the thousands and thousands of replicas that abound in gift shops and jewellers both in Ireland and throughout the world. This famous brooch was made out of gold wire and strips, and was used to fasten cloaks from as long ago as the Iron Age right up until Medieval times. ~ ~ These are only a few of the dozens and dozens of fascinating gold hoards that are on display at the Museum. Others include such treasures as the “Broighter Hoard”, discovered in 1896 by a Co. Derry ploughman, which is a range of first century gold objects that includes a very large gold collar, the standard of workmanship of which surpasses anything in the whole of Europe. Then there is the “Gleninsheen Gorget”, a magnificent gold collar discovered by workmen in Co.Clare in 1932, that dates back to between 700 – 800 BC. "St. Patrick's Bell and Shrine" dates from the fifth century, and the myth is perpetuated that it belonged to the patron Saint of Ireland himself. It was discovered in Co. Armagh and carried off to France by a Norman Baron where it remained for many years before finding its way back into the hands of an old Irish family called Mulholland, who bequeathed it to the State. "The Cross of Kong" is a 12th century cross fashioned out of bronze, wood, and silver, and is said to have been specially designed to hold a relic of the actual true cross which had been presented to the then King of Connaught by Pope Calixtus the Secon
d in 1123. The relic it was designed to contain has unfortunately long since disappeared. ~ ~ Ireland in Medieval times was a centre of religious activity, and it is fortunate indeed that so many of these priceless remains have been discovered and found for future generations to come and wonder over. Much of the ancient art is as beautiful today as when it was first discovered. The Road to Independence ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ This is yet another permanent exhibition at the Museum, which deals with the countries history in the period 1916 – 1921, when the fight to free Ireland from British rule was at its height. Many readers will have seen the film “Michael Collins” in recent times. Here at the Museum you can actually view many items of interest relating to this Irish hero, who along with Eamonn De Valera was a co-founder of the Irish State. As well as his greatcoat and a cap, there is an actual death mask of both himself and one of his leuitenants, Terence MacSwiney, cast shortly after their assassinations during the Irish Civil War that followed the Declaration of Independence. There are many papers and documents, uniforms, and a selection of the actual weapons and firearms used during the famous stance taken by the Irish Republicans in the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916. If you combine this visit with a tour round the old prison at Kilmainham Gaol, where many of the old Republicans were executed by firing squad, this should leave you with a far greater understanding of this vital period in Irish history. ~ ~ The National Museum is open every day except Monday from 10.00AM until 5.00PM, and on a Sunday afternoon from 2.00PM to 5.00PM. There is a gift and souveneir shop where you can buy books and memerobilia relating to the many exhibits, and the Museum is fully geared to deal with wheelchairs. Admission is free, however, for €1.30 you may have a guided t
our. Do give this place a visit next time you visit Dublin.
Based in two sites, the National Museum houses artefacts which date from 7000 BC to the 20th century. Established in 1890, the National Museum houses a collection of artefacts and treasures dating from 7000 BC to the present day. Since 1998 the National Museum collection has been divided between the Kildare Street building and Collins Barracks at Arbour Hill. In the Kildare St building in the city centre, which was opened in 1890, exhibitions include The Treasury, which features major examples of Celtic and Medieval art such as the famous Ardagh Chalice, Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Hoard. Prehistoric gold artefacts are featured in the Ór - Ireland's Gold exhibition, while Independence is a fascinating exhibition dealing with the history of the 1916-1921 period, which led to independence. The most recent exhibition features artefacts from Ancient Egypt