March 10, 2019

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Blog

Dublin’s Free Museums

Author Name

William Connor Ayers

Author Program

Ireland: Social Sciences

Program Semester and Year

Spring 2019

Student Major

Psychology and Political Science

If you ever come to Dublin, the museums that they have are a must see. In particular, the National Gallery and the National Museum of Ireland have been two of my favorites so far. And the best part? They’re both free (donations are appreciated though). Both the National Gallery and the National Museum share the same block with the Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament). You could theoretically visit all of them before lunch, though I recommend spending a bit more time in each place.

The National Gallery houses a variety of artwork that spans from the 14th to the 20th century. I first visited the gallery with some friends, but went back a second time on my own so that I could wander through the halls again. I was especially impressed with the early christian art that the museum had on display, including a scene from the story of St. George and the dragon. I’d say my favorite part of the museum though was was the portrait exhibit, featuring portraits from the 19th century to more contemporary pieces. Included among them was a portrait of William Butler Yeats, whose poems and plays I had just read for my Irish Literature and Theatre class.

The National Museum of Ireland tells the history of Ireland, from the stone age to the middle ages. I first visited it with a group of other students as a part of our Irish Life & Cultures class. It tells the history of the island, with the help of artifacts including golden jewelry and an ancient hollowed out canoe. One of the most interesting parts of the museum were the bog bodies that were available to look at. It was an intimate experience to see the hairstyle and skin of someone who had lived in Ireland thousands of years ago. A lot of the time when I’m looking at ancient tools or jewelry, I forget that real people, not so different from myself, used them and lived during times long past. The museum covers also covers the early christian period of Ireland and explores the unique brand of Christianity that was present during the time. Along side these exhibits it explores the viking invasions and the establishment of Dublin as a major trading port because of them. Dublin has some great museums available to the public, and I highly recommend them to anyone visiting the city.