National Museum of Ireland
The national museum of Ireland is so comprehensive that it’s divided into four distinct institutions, each dedicated to a particular class of exemplary artifacts. A truly wholistic experience, these institutions blur the lines between an art gallery and a historical museum, and is therefore a must-see destination. Three of the four museums – Natural History, Archaeology, and Decorative Art & History – are located in Dublin.
Admission: All of Ireland’s national museums are freely open to the public.
National Museum of Ireland: Natural History
Merrion St Upper, Dublin 2
Sometimes call the Dead Zoo, the Natural History museum is an expansive composition of botany, geology and zoology. Containing over 2 million items, this museum displays over 10,000 specimens in classic Victorian cabinet style. In the ‘Irish room’ you can explore the diversity of Ireland’s specimens, but if you want to get up close and personal with the contents of the display, we recommend checking out the wonder cabinet where visitors of all ages can handle various objects and samples.
National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology
Kildare St, Dublin 2
The Archaeology institution is just as impressive. From as early as the 7000 to as late as the 20th Century, visitors will be delighted to explore artifacts from all over the world, including Ireland’s very own prehistoric ‘bog bodies’.
National Museum of Ireland: Decorative arts and History
Collins Barracks, Benburb St, Dublin 7
Similar to the archeological museum is the Decorative arts and History museum, which as the name suggests specializes on the aesthetics of international artifacts – both practical and impractical. Visitors will find rooms, furniture, art, and attire spanning different cultures and centuries.
Kilmainham Gaol Museum
Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8
If you like to delve into Ireland rich history, we recommend immersing yourself in a living relic, the Kilmainham Gaol Museum. Once a prison, Kilmainham Gaol held both criminal and political dissidents, including pivotal rebel leaders in Ireland’s struggle for independence. Abandoned in 1924, the prison became a national monument of Irish patriotism in the 1980s. Today, it serves as a vivid vessel to honor the past and educate the future.
Admission: A popular destination and heritage site, the museum only offers guided tours. Every visitor must buy a ticket in advance (including OPW Heritage cardholders and those under 18 years old).
14 Henrietta Street
14 Henrietta St, Dublin 1
If you’re looking for a quaint immersive experience, we suggest visiting Henrietta Street. A social history museum, 14 Henrietta street, preserves the beginning of Dublin’s infamous tenement housing era in the 18th and 19th centuries. Originally constructed as a single family home for the wealthy, this Georgian houses quickly became occupied by 100 individuals living in dire conditions by 1911.
Admission: The entry fees for Intimate guided tours vary by age. Visitors are encouraged to prebook their tours. The museum also offers special events, including speakers, ‘tea time talks’.
The Old Library – Trinity College
College Green, South-East Inner City, Dublin 2
Located on the campus of Trinity College, Dublin, the Old library – built over400 centuries ago – is home to the famed ‘long room’ and the ‘treasury’, where one can find the Book of Kells (also known as the book of Columba). The picturesque library – known as the long room – beautifully displays roughly 200,000 antique books in 18th century oak bookshelves. Each of these books is carefully preserved by professionals who clean, measure, record and climate-control using specialized equipment. All that said, the true national treasure – older than the library itself – is the Book of Kells, a 340-page gospel manuscript from the 9th century. Adorned in vibrant depictions of Christian symbols, mythical creatures, calligraphy, and Celtic knots, this 1,200-year-old religious text is a must-see.
Admission: Entry fees depend on individual age and group size, but all fees are waived for Trinity College students and staff.
Guinness Store house
St. James’s Gate, Dublin 8
True to Ireland and unique to Dublin is the opportunity to drink your next Guinness beer right from the source. Originally built at the turn of the 20th century as a fermentation plant, the Guinness store house has been a popular destination for tourists since 2000. Explore the history of Guinness and Irish beer culture through a series of exhibitions displaying ingredients (namely water, barley, hops and yeast), brewing techniques, cooperage, transportation and advertising. Notably, the museum also promotes responsible drinking and an introduction to the founder, Arthur Guiness.
- Did you know? Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 property lease!
Admission: Standard entry is €26 per person, which includes access to the gravity bar and tasting rooms. The more expensive options include a ‘stoutie’ and ‘Guinness Academy’.
Chester Beatty Museum
Dublin Castle, Dublin 2
Looking for a cosmopolitan museum? Look no further than the Chester Beatty Museum, named after its philanthropist founder, Alfred Chester Beatty, someone who personally lived an international life, collecting various artifacts along the way. Part of Dublin Castle, a museum in and of itself, this institution is now a revolving door of cultural expositions, displaying art and artifacts of various kinds: prints, paintings, texts, jewelry, vases, etc. Regularly changing, each exhibition is a specially crafted story, giving visitors a glimpse into cultures during different eras across centuries and continents (namely Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East).
Admission: Entry and public tours are free, but a donation of €5 is often appreciated. Private tours and group visits can be booked as well.
Dame St, Dublin 2
Dublin castle is a conglomerate of exhibitions, preserved the building itself. Once a prison, a fortress, and a Treasury, Dublin castle is a must-see. You’ll be able to explore ancient Viking excavations, climb the medieval tower, stroll through state apartments (still used as venues for important political events) have a moment of solitude in the chapel royal, and finally get a breath of fresh air in the castle gardens.
Admission: Self-guided entry fees depend on age and group/family size. Are you a student? Bring your student ID for a discount. Tours are also available for booking
EPIC Irish Emigration Museum
The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin 1
A ten-minute walk from O’Connell street will get you to the Irish emigration museum. While Ireland is a small country, it has a large impact on the world. The Irish diaspora led to the achievements of many Irish emigrants and descents abroad. Dedicated to preserving the history, future, and legacy of Irish people at home and abroad, this museum leaves no stone unturned. Unlike other museums that simply display information, the Irish Emigration museum curates an immersive experience for every visitor. Participation is encouraged, and descendants of the Irish diaspora are encouraged to tell their stories. Check out the Irish Family Center to trace your heritage!
Admission: The Museum is open Monday through Friday 10.00 AM – 6.45 PM [last entry is 5.00 PM]. Buying tickets in advance is advised, entry is free for kids under 5 years old.
Dublin’s Honorable Mentions
National Print Museum
Haddington Rd, Dublin 4
The national print museum dives into the historical significance and contemporary relevance of print. Not only can you see print exhibitions and technology, but actively engage in the print process yourself!
UCD Naughton Joyce Centre, 86 St Stephen’s Green, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin
The Museum of Literature Ireland, MOLI, is home to Ireland most prized and world renowned story tellers. Here you’ll find immersive exhibitions, and specially selected books from the National library of Ireland. Entry Fees apply.
Croke Park / GAA Museum
Jones’ Rd, Drumcondra, Dublin 3
Are you a sports fan? As Ireland’s largest sporting arena, hosting 82,300 fans, Croke park is popular among athletes and fans alike. You’ll be able to walk the Croke Park Skyline, explore the stadium, and learn about history at the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) museum. Entry Fees apply.
Finglas Rd, Glasnevin, Dublin
While not a traditional museum, Ireland’s largest burial place is a Victorian era cemetery cradling Ireland’s History. This unique experience invites guest to immerse themselves in Irish history through the burial of past generations. Notably, Glasnevin cemetery is not solely historical, as it is an active cemetery. Tour fees apply.
Note: This is an active cemetery