Europe / Ireland

National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology, Dublin

026 Dublin National Museum of Ireland Archaeology — The Tara Brooch, 8th century, Meath Co

Today we’ll pay a visit to the Museum of Ireland: Archaeology, situated on Kildare Street.  The Archaeology Museum is housed in an elegant dome-capped building designed by Thomas Newenham Deane and his son, Thomas Manly Deane, and was opened in 1890.  There are thousands of items on exhibit in the museum (from a collection of more than 2 million artifacts) outlining the unfolding history and treasures of Ireland, a country so very rich in history (less so in treasure).  Despite the extensive collection, the museum is well organized.  It’s easy to navigate and fun to explore.  You’ll need at least a half day for an introductory visit — much longer if you want to linger and thoroughly study the things you’ll see.

The National Museum: Archaeology is one of the most captivating museums I’ve been to in recent memory.  As you walk in you’re taken back in time, as far back as 7,000 BC.  The museum has displays of Stone, Bronze and Iron Age artifacts including an assortment of weapons and tools, an ancient canoe, and several recently discovered 2000 year old bog mummies (which I didn’t photograph).  There are displays of items from Egypt, Cyprus and the Roman empire.  Perhaps the highlight of the museum is an amazing collection of prehistoric gold artifacts, said to be the finest in Europe.  I’m astounded at the craftsmanship of these “primitive” folks — items of remarkable and enduring beauty.  I found especially fascinating how, while the rest of Europe was in the Dark Ages, Irish had a thriving craft culture.

You’re given a glimpse of what Ireland was like at the time the Vikings were pillaging the country.  Displays from medieval Ireland document life in the age of castles, monasteries and cathedrals   But for me the most magnificent items were found in The Treasury which features superb Celtic Medieval craftsmanship, including brooches, chalices and other valuable items.  The Treasury collection includes the famous Tara Broach, Ardagh Chalice, religious symbols, and yields from various hoards discovered hiding in the bogs of Ireland.

There is no admission charge.  The museum has an excellent cafe, wherein we enjoyed coffee and a snack, and interesting gift shop.  This is the one stop in Dublin I’d say everyone should see.

Please take a look at some of these photos, a small part of the fascinating and beautiful exhibits you can visit in Dublin.

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