We have been getting a rather mixed bag (to put it politely) of weather lately, so here are a few ideas that will keep you warm, dry and entertained when it is a 'soft day' that is bucketing it down in Ireland. Top of the list has to be the Fab Four i.e. The National Museum of Ireland, The Museum of Decorative Arts & History, The Natural History Museum and the Museum of Country Life, which collectively make up the National Museum of Ireland and the good news is that admission to all four is free!
The National Museum on Kildare Street is quite simply fantastic and right in the heart of all the action, government buildings are next door which is always good for a bit of people watching or protesting whatever floats your boat! An iconic architectural gem in its own right with a zodiac floor and marble columns, not to mention the gorgeous Gold Collection, the Bog Bodies and a horde of Viking treasures. Plus you can take the weight off your feet for a while and watch a film in the theatre upstairs and there is also a very good café.
The Natural History Museum around the corner on Merrion Street has recently been refurbished and reopened and houses what is fondly known in Dublin as the ‘Dead Zoo’. These stuffed animals have been dead for a very long time (since I was a child) so we are on first name terms Spoticus, the giraffe and me. Watch ‘A Night in the Museum’ to get the kids (or yourself) in the mood and let your imagination run riot!
The Museum of Decorative Arts & History is over on the North side of Dublin and is easily accessible on foot or the Luas Tramway stops almost outside the door if you are lazy! The Curator's Choice is a selection of 25 of the nation's best treasures including the Fonthill Vase pictured below. Which is the oldest piece of porcelain in Europe, that belonged once upon a time to (among others) the Dauphin of France, but was acquired by the Museum at an auction in 1880 for just £28.....
And lastly, my favourite, the Museum of Country Life set in beautiful parkland, just outside Castlebar in County Mayo. A family could easily spend all day here so bring a picnic although again there is a good reasonably priced café. Turlough House is a replica of what the ‘big houses’ used to be like in Ireland once upon a time when absentee landlords ruled over the peasant farmers, often only turning up to collect the rent. The Museum itself is a very modern and well designed building and exhibition space. It is user friendly with charming, well put together collections that depict the lives of our forefathers who worked on the land or at sea. They were certainly very inventive if the Straw exhibition is anything to go by....
For full details of opening hours please consult the websites below. As above admission is free, ditto drop-in events etc although there may be a small charge for specialist workshops.
For more information on the Museums of Ireland, including free events please click here.