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.


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! 

Heritage Ireland Week: Croke Park Tour

Last October, I attended a meeting at Croke Park and at the end we were given a private tour we were able to visit the field, locker room but we didn’t get to visit the Museum.

When I saw that Heritage Ireland week was offering FREE tours of the stadium and museum, I booked the four of us in as I knew the kids would LOVE it.


Today’s tour was a bit different in that it was longer and more in-depth with a lot more history about the game, players and stadium.  Amazing that here in little Dublin, we have the THIRD largest stadium in Europe – holding 84,000!!

Upstairs in the Museum, as with all sports museums, it was filled with banners, flags, clothing, stories, plaques, trophies and memorabilia from past players of hurling and football.

They also had a section dedicated to the Olympics – and it in was the gold medal, won by Katie Taylor (who is from Bray) in London 2012 and Marathoner, John Treacy’s Silver from Los Angeles 1984 games.

Maebh and I are obsessed with Nesting Dolls, we personally found this our favorite thing of the entire day!

Upstairs is a whole interactive area which the kids LOVED and could play all day!

And to finish the day, they both got a pencil from the gift shop and got a penny souvenir which they cranked.  Soren chose Croke Park and Maebh the Sam Maguire Trophy.  They loved it and would love to return again.


Howth: Day Trip to Ireland’s Eye

On Sunday, it was a beautiful sunny day in Dublin we thought we’d do something different so we decided to visit Ireland’s Eye – the small uninhabited island just 10 minutes north of Howth Harbor. For the past two years, we’ve looked at the island nearly daily yet this was our first time out there and I’m sure it will not be our last.

There are a couple different boats leaving from both East & West Pier – and they are about 15. per adult and 10 for kids – though you don’t have to be too concerned with which one you come back on as they both return you to Howth. [Though I have read online of some tourists get all fired up as they are not where they were originally.]

When we first had to get on the “ferry” (and by that I mean a simple boat which holds 15 or so) you have to walk down steps on the water’s edge… then it’s even worse as when you arrive at the island I was instantly overcome with panic as the steps were so small and dangerous.  This would NEVER fly in the US.  I know several kids who should NOT be taken onto this island for safety purposes.  🙂  In fact, I said to Nils, perhaps we just not get off…. overruled!  I guess I assumed we were pulling into a pier or jetty – nope!   Thankfully we were safe and no injuries in our party! 

Yep, walk up those lovely rocks my kids – don’t fall! 🙂

See what I mean, where in the US will a boat let you off on a side of a cliff and say walk up. lol
Thankfully I was wearing sneakers as Nils was in FLIP FLOPS! 🙂

Once we managed to get up we came to a lovely small rocky beach just left of the Martello Tower, were I knew instantly I could find sea glass so my nerves were calmed (at least for a a bit until we started to explore more).


While Nils and the kids paddled a bit in the sea (Soren’s fractured elbow prevented a proper swim), our student spent his time on the phone – grrrr – teenager!

This was my haul in less than 1 hour – will post a photo the rest at the end.

After some time on that one beach, we climbed a bit of the path and went around to a much larger, more sandy beach.

While I collected glass, Maebh collected rabbit bones thanks to myxamatosis.

As we turned around the beach area, we were up on the cliffs over looking seals below and a guy in a yellow kayak, who had a very up close experience.  If you look closely next to him in the water, you can see two white seals.

The people way out on the edge made me so nervous – one google search and you’ll find dozens of stories of people falling off the cliffs and having to be rescued by the Coast Guard and RNLI.
From here we turned around and backtracked our same steps as we were not going to walk through the high grasses with nettles and brambles and we are not experienced hikers, etc.
A TIP WHEN RETURNING:  When you are ready to come back from the island, head down to the steps and start forming a queue as you might have to wait for a few boats if you are towards the back. With kids this can be a long wait.

Here is where we waited – and sure enough a boat arrived packed with people who only went on the journey around the island – they did’t get off so only 5 of us could return and 20 others had to wait behind for the next ferries to come get them.

On the journey back, the boat takes a different path – around the backside of the island past all the birds – we were luck enough to see a Puffin – but with my phone’s camera, you can’t even see it.

When we arrived back in Howth, it was packed with tourists all enjoying the beautiful weather.

Here is a promotional video from Ireland’s Eyes Ferries  – you can get a great idea of the island from it…

and one of a drone – you really see the great beaches on one side and “the stack” area where the birds are mainly located, though the seagulls are all over and can be very vicious.

There is a bit of history on the island in that there was a murder there.

In 1852 William Kirwan, an artist and a gentleman, came to Howth on holiday with his wife, Sarah. They were rowed out to the island by a local boatman. He planned to do some painting, while she was going to soak up rays. As the sun set, the boatmen returned to collect them. Sarah was missing. Her body was later found washed up on rocks at a place known as the “long hole”, the place we have just passed.
Kirwan said she had drowned, but was charged and convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. The evidence was largely circumstantial. Kirwan had been in dispute with locals over unpaid bills, and was having an affair with a woman in the city. His sentence was subsequently commuted to a life term and he served 27 years of hard labour before setting off to America to meet the “other woman”
We were there for about 4 hours – time really went quickly.  Next time I would bring a picnic and our swimsuits …. if we only had friends with a boat who could take us there more frequently!

Almost forgot, here is the second haul of sea glass (20 minute walk back to boat)

Glad we made the trip out, it was a a great adventure and we’ll do it again.

Halloween Night

So last night completed our Halloween festivities in Dubiln and truthfully I’m happy it is over!





Our kids trick or treated here in our neighborhood which was fun – many houses really got into the spirit. Some go overboard with light up skeletons and screaming goblins and moving hands… they loved it. Unlike in America where you get ONE  or maybe two pieces of candy, they Irish gave out bags of candy – just like goody bags at the end of a birthday party.  A family up the road made 70 bags!!   On the next street over, one lady told us she’s been living in her home for 49 years and she’s been giving mulled wine away to all the parents who come to the door.   I took a sip but gave Nils my glass  – so that is when I became the DD who would drive us to the bonfire and fireworks up by the kids’ school.

So after going up and down our street and the next one over, we headed over to the fireworks.  Not sure who exactly put them on but I think it’s the council – as they are illegal here.  Anyway we ran into some of the families from the kids school and the fireworks were good.  Immediately after they lit the bonfire – which was essentially just junk that all the local kids gathered.  There was wood but also stuff like a turtle sand pit, a mattress and a tire!   Do they not know how bad that is… anyway, we stayed for a bit to see it get lit up, Soren and his friend tossed a few pieces of wood in and then we were off – as were many of the families.    Who knew what happened later that night, but in reading the newspapers online, lots of bad behavior was happening throughout the city.  The Dublin Fire Brigade Tweeted @DubFireBrigade  their call outs all last night – and some stuff was just bad.   Perhaps it is just me but the police do NOT carry guns so when called to help protect an Ambulance or Fire Truck who was to help out injured person, being greeted by a group of unruly youths seems a bit silly.  The headline was: In one 12-hour period, fire services dealt with 193 small fires or bonfires, 19 house fires and 26 “unconscious cases”.








Earlier in the day, the four of us took a walk to the local grocery store to pick up a couple things and we say a group of kids setting off fireworks which they call “bangers” here.  Anyway, they were clearly just hanging around without supervision and later that night on the way to the fireworks we drove by a huge bonfire in the grassy green by the playground.   Nils and I differ a bit here as he says they are just kids hanging out having some fun…

Who knew the city could/would be so insane.   There is a line between kids having a bit of fun and then there is outright dangerous and disrespectful behavior which is labeled “anti-social behavior”. You often here of a great North Side vs South Side city issues with these problems but last night to me solidified that there is problems on both sides of the River Liffey.   When I say bad, I mean a 21 year old guy from the flats in the South Side of the city was stabbed to death.  And West of the city was another stabbing incident.   Happy to report this is no where near our house!

Anyway, we then went over to a neighbor’s house up the road for some drinks and the kids watched TV and ate way too many treats and chips.

Thankfully we all had a great, SAFE night!

Oh and carving our pumpkin a week early is way too soon – they were ROTTEN!!


Guinness Storehouse Experience – #1 Tourist Attraction in Ireland

With our friends Anthony & Megan in Dublin from America for some days, we chose to join them at Ireland’s #1 tourist attraction — The Guinness Storehouse Experience.  My suggestion was to arrange a sitter for the kids and make it an adult-only trip but Nils said how much Soren, at 7, would love it.   Well, after about 40 minutes and queuing in lines – both were done with it all.

We went on a Monday at 11 am – so the lines were fine… but I could only imagine the lines and crowds during the weekend.  Once you go through and pay [TIP: Avoid the lines & book online with a 10% discount]. You come up an escalator to a tour guide who gives a very brief speech about Arthur Guinness and points out the 9,000 YEAR lease, which is displayed in the glass in the floor.

From there you head out on your own, self-guided tour.  If you couldn’t read English, there are electronic devices in several languages which take you through an audio tour.

On the right side you have hundreds of Guinness bottles from the years and on the left is a great souvenir shop with tons of great stuff.  I picked up a 2015, heavy-duty, bottle opener magnet for the fridge.

From there, you start to progress through the different sections of the building, which is shaped like a glass in the middle. The entire building is an amazing engineering structure which has been modernized to make very interactive.

The first exhibits show how the “black stuff” is made with four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water.

I was a huge fan of the water behind the blue lights…  I had the kids toss a coin in for good luck.  The water that is used to brew the beer comes from the Wicklow Mountains and not from the River Liffey like most believe.

The second floor told about the magical 5th ingredient – Arthur Guinness himself.  You move from portrait to portrait.  Once you stood in front of it, it began to move and talk.  Soren & I were cracking up as it was so real – like the eyes moved with you as you walked away.It goes on to talk about the coppers, then the craftsmen who made these  hand-made barrels to transport the beer around the world.  I’d love to get my hands one).

A display explained how it was transported by horses, trains, barges, ships and trucks to over 150 countries around the world!!  In fact, a different recipe was used which contained more alcohol for the longer journey.

As you go up you come to a few different bars and restaurants (didn’t go in any of them), various advertising & memorabilia, interactive computers and so much more.

As you headed up a level you get to the tasting experience, where you can smell four different scents (Soren loved this part), then take a tiny glass of cold beer into a dark, oak room with portraits of the various men involved with the brewery.
You were then taught about how to drink it properly and once done, sent outside to learn how to pour your own Guinness.   At this point, Soren and Maebh headed up to the bar with Nils and us three stayed back to learn the art of a proper pour by Oshin.

Soren was enjoyed different things but liked the barley grains which he kept touching – probably like a sandbox.  Maebh was either tossing coins into the waterfall or the giant bottle cap chair.At the top, on floor 7, is the gravity bar which overlooks the entire city.  The bar up there was closed, but you could still enjoy the view with the pint you poured downstairs.

Overall I had a great day at the Guinness Store House Experience. My photos don’t do justice – so click here to see their website. It was interesting, my first time drinking a pint of Guinness!!  I’d highly recommend it to both tourists & locals.  I also think it would be a fabulous place to work! I thought it would be a great opportunity to try something very “touristy” which I have never done before.  We try to do a lot of touristy things while here in Ireland and truthfully have done more stuff around Ireland from the Burren to Dingle to Cork up to Carlingford but need want to do more in Dublin proper.  Weather pending, we hope to take the Viking Splash Tour tomorrow.Would I go back – Yes definitely!  I would gladly accompany any of our out-of-town guests and would to try a meal in one of their many restaurants.   Alternatively, I would HIGHLY recommend all our out-of-town guests go – we’ll watch their kids so they can enjoy thoroughly what we did.  Remember, book online – save money and time in those long lines!!  Oh and do it the day you do the Hop On & Off Bus as it’s in an area not too central to public transport.
And if you are a fan of distillery tours – you can check out Jamesons & Teeling both in Dublin!