Little Museum of Dublin

Last week, I was attended a special guided tour of the “Little Museum of Dublin” with a women’s social group to which I belong.

It is located in a lovely Georgian house just opposite St. Stephens Green, down from the Hibernian Club, where the club’s monthly meetings take place.  A person from the museum came to the club and spoke about the museum – unfortunately, I was not able to attend that, so when I saw the tour, I jumped on it.

After this tour, I’ll bring the kids back for a visit.   Soren would especially enjoy the U2 exhibition.   They have worksheets available at the museum for children of all ages that can help you get more out of your visit.   Plus the tour guides in the museum can give your children some special attention pointing out a fewinteractive artifacts in the museum, they let your kids handle – but do ask!  Take a photo of them in the old Dublin school desk, or making a speech from JFK’s lectern. The more they get involved, the more they learn.  They do things with schools too.

The Little Museum of Dublin tells the story of Dublin in the 20th century.    All items are donated  or are loan which makes it even cooler. They are always looking for interesting items, so if you have something historical here in Dublin – reach out to them!  

While we waited for the tour to start, we were free to explore the room downstairs which was a photographic exhibition. Then upstairs, a guide named June, brought us into two large rooms where you navigate your way from the early 1900’s to the 1990’s.  There you’ll see the story evolution of the society, from a political, social and cultural point of view.  She pointed out some key things.  Unfortunately when I tried to get back into the first room, to take photos, there was a private tour happening, so I could not re-enter.  The reason I didn’t take photos at first is 1) I wanted to pay attention to what she was pointing out and 2) there was way too many people. In addition to our group there were 6 additional adults, so photos would be an issue as there would no doubt be a person in the photo.  Having learned my lesson, I did manage take some photos in room #2.

There are more than 5000 artifacts on display, from bicycles, newspaper articles, photographs and rare objects like the lectern (stand) used by John Fitzgerald Kennedy when he visited Ireland and a first English edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

There is a permanent exhibition about the famous Irish band U2 up on the second floor. There are a lot of photographs, signed albums, concert tickets and other memorabilia on display. There’s even a Trabant car in the middle of the room which I took a photo of – yep with a person in the corner, but no matter how long I waited, I was NEVER alone for a second in any room.

I highly recommend visiting this museum whether you are from Dublin, Expat like our family or just a tourist in for a few days. They do a great job showing how Dublin has evolved over the last hundred years and the tour lasts 29 minutes – so even those strapped for time can squeeze it in.
I just saw that in addition to visiting the museum, they offer a 60-minute walking tour with an expert local guide Donal Fallon called WALK THE GREEN MILE.  It takes place on the weekends.  If interested click on the link and book in – they sell out.  In fact, all tours of the museum sell out often so best to book online.

Sketching at National Gallery and Hugh Lane Gallery

Today Maebh and I spent the day in the city center checking out the National Gallery and then the Hugh Lane Gallery. Both had family-focused drawing events on today so it was perfect timing for Soren to be invited to a football birthday party and us girls spent the day in the city.

We took the DART in which is a big adventure for a 6 year old and the bus home – with the high hopes of being at the top of the bus in the front row.  Had to settle for second to front as the people who were there were still there when it was our stop – they were probably going to Howth!

First up was the National Gallery.   Each Sunday from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm they have a free family event where kids are allowed in to a small area to participate in the artist-facilitated drop-in session in the atrium. These sessions are inspired by the collection and our exhibitions, are suitable for tiny tots upwards.  Each week they have a guest artist encouraging each child to explore the week’s theme. There are also free family tours taking place at 12.30 pm.  When we return with Soren, we’ll pick up a children’s audio guide at the information desk and take a family tour – which we did, but will get to that later.

It was packed, so we got a number and had a drink in the cafe before going back in.  Not sure if it’s best to arrive at 11:00 to be one of the first it at 1:00 to be one of the last?

This is the schedule for the future events.

8 January…Group of Cavalry in the Snow, by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier. With Jane Bowe
15 January… About Face with Susan Farrelly
22 January…As Still as a Statue with Beth O’Halloran
29 JanuaryThe Magic of Chinese New Year with Fala Buggy
(In association with the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival)
5 February… Me, Myself and I with Libby Simington
12 February… Lights and Lanterns with Louise McGrath
(In association with the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival)
19 February Light, Darkness, Drama with Edel Campbell
26 February… Dots and Spots: The Terrace, St. Tropez, by Paul Signac. With Valerie Moffat
5 March… The Animals of Spring with Kate Dick
12 March… Colours Around ‘The Sunshade’ by William John Leech. With Elizabeth Archbold
19 March… Artist Inspirations with Joe Coveney
26 March… Special Someone with Fiona Harrington
2 April… The Triumph of Cúchulainn by Louis le Brocquy. With Vita Ryan
9 April… Rock the Baroque with Janine Davidson
16 April… Design a Treasure Hunt with Jo May
23 April… A Party at the Palace with Eimear Murphy
30 April… The Gleaners, by Jules Breton. With Frances Coghlan

Today session was About Face with Susan Farrelly.  The artist discussed various faces and the kids using cups, made circles and various faces.

about faces

At 12:30, we took the half hour free family tour which was great.  The tour guide spent just enough time with stops at five paintings in one gallery room- explaining them, their styles from impressionism, pointism, abstract, etc and did a great job interacting with the children and naturally, Maebh’s had was straight up interacting. She showed five paintings including: Monet, Lavery, Picasso, Yeats and Signac.

unnamed

As the cafe in the National Gallery was packed and not a seat to be found, we ended up at KC Peaches for a quick lunch.  We split a blat (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado) sandwich, which was yummy but was not my first choice. I would have preferred the spicy chickpea sandwich but I knew it would be too spicy for her. And based on the size and price, it was evident we’d be splitting something.  It was yummy but I do have a gripe with them as they do not have a children’s menu nor a child version of their sandwiches.  I don’t see why they don’t offer a half sandwich portion for kids?!  Seriously, why would I buy her an adult portion knowing full-well, she could not eat a whole one herself.   Would we return probably not – or only go if I was with  both kids and they could split one leaving me to my favorite chickpea whatever!  Oh yeah, check out the drink which she insisted on having only to hate it (too sour)!

We then headed over to Penny’s and Hugh Lane Gallery for the second art event of the day.  We had high hopes of getting her some new shirts in Penny’s but we are right in-between seasons, so was not much.   She did spy a sequin two way shirt which she has been dying to get for a long while and at €3, I couldn’t say no.

One way is Elsa the other was Olaf.  You know she has plans to wear it on Monday to school!

At the Hugh Lane Gallery, we along with a couple other kids were there at 3 pm sharp for a sketching session.  They were brought into a room with Olive, the instructor who had them first look at different photos and see if they could spot umbrellas.  After a while discussing the paintings, history, style, etc they were to sketch them.

Overall the hour was very pleasant and Maebh enjoyed it. We will be back for future events with Soren too.  After we poked around the gallery looking at he various exhibitions including the Renior, Monet, Manet and Francis Bacon studio.

Afterwards we walked to our bus (she really wanted the bus home vs DART) so we did.  First we stopped in an arcade on O’Connell Street to play a few games!  Fastest €5 ever spent! 🙂

All in all was a great day and look forward to doing it again.  I personally am going to visit the National Gallery again soon (either alone or with a friend) but children-free so I can go from room to room and take a tour, etc.  There are so many things in Dublin I want to see some with kids and some without.  I am having a tour of The Little Museum of Ireland in a couple weeks so will post about that soon!

I hope she always remembers this special mom & daughter day.  I still remember being 8 and my mom taking me to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.  I even remember ordering the Soup de Jour! 

Irish Maritime Museum, Dun Laoghaire

Today I took the kids to a tour of the Irish Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire.  Part of Heritage Week the tour was FREE and VERY informative.  The guide was excellent and spent a long time explaining each significant event.  Some tragic events were heart wrenching, especially this one told on the Dun Laoghaire’s RNLI page.

He first started off explaining that the building which the museum is now located was an active Church of Ireland parish from 1837 to 1971 purposely built for merchants.  A select number of seats below were reserved for those in the merchant marine and all of the balcony were reserved for the English Navy.  In fact, everyone had to attend church every Sunday, even prisoners so they had two areas in the far corner reserved for the prisoners who were brought in in chains.  In 1971 it was reconsecrated and turned into a museum and in the Celtic Tiger boom it was given a grant for a major refurbishment to take it to where it is today.

The 10-tonne, Bailey Optic from Howth, donated from Irish Lights was VERY impressive.  The whole top assembly floats on a bed or mercury and needs very little energy to keep it moving.  It now uses an electrical motor, but the original mechanism which drove the music was by being wound by one of three lighthouse keepers.

The stain glass windows behind it and throughout the museum were impressive – of course, my camera phone does not do them justice.

The kids tried Morse Code where they sent messages to each other and learned to write their name in code. They did this at the Henry Blogg Museum in Cromer.


They pretended to be pirates….

Took control of the helm and the radio room.

Overall we had a great time and the tour was very informative. I highly recommend anyone who has an interest in the historical aspect of the sea, particularly what happened in the Irish maritime history visit this museum.    It is on the DART line and nearby People’s Park so it would be great to visit it on an a day when the market it on.

Trinity College Dublin: Zoology Museum Visit

The kids and I checked out the Trinity College Dublin Zoology Museum.  The 250-year old collection houses 25,000 specimens, representing all of the animal phyla. While the main purpose of the museum is to provide undergraduate training in animal systematics, biodiversity and taxonomy.  The museum was open to the public during Heritage Week I think the price was about €7 for the three of us.  Visitors were given a guided introduction to the world of extinct creatures, exotic beasts and glass models of marine animals by the zoology students and staff.


Surprisingly Soren knew a lot about different species there – Wild Kratz?  All in all it was a nice collection.  The best part of the visit was that they were able to touch the bones, sculls, etc.  That is super cool to the under 8 crowd. Would we return – I’d say no probably not.

The grounds of TCU are lovely, so we stopped at a few sculptures.


And later, while walking down O’Connell Street, Soren gave a coin to a guy dressed up as a leprechaun in good fun.  I think if I bought a similar costume stood around for all the American tourists, I’d make a fortune!