With its many renowned National museums and a number of culturally significant literary haunts (the Chester Beatty Library Museum and the Dublin Writer’s Museum are both well worth a visit) it would be easy to overlook the alternatives, but if you fancy something a little left-of-the-center, look no further than these 5 delightfully odd but undeniably entertaining museums.
1) The Little Museum of Dublin
A new concept in modern museums, this small house museum takes over a Georgian townhouse with its quirky collection of photographs, art and nostalgic relics from the 20th and 21st centuries, providing a unique insight into everyday life, as well as a commentary on Irish social, political and cultural changes. U2 fans will have a field day with their new photography exhibition too.
2) Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood
If you never quite got over the joy of your first doll-house, this museum will transport you back to your pre-teen years of playing house, with Ireland’s largest doll’s house ‘Tara’s Palace’ taking prize place in this pint-size museum. The exhibition of intricately carved miniatures (some dating back 300 years) including furniture, books, model cars and dolls is not only a fascinating slice of nostalgia, but a showcase of some incredibly beautiful small-scale craftsmanship.
3) Wax Museum
While it may pack some legendary Irishmen into its themed rooms – ‘The Vault of Irish History’ and ‘The Writers Room’ are most interesting – don’t expect too much of the artwork at this cheap and cheerful wax museum. Best enjoyed with tongue firmly in cheek, there are plenty of laughs to be had as you try to match the hapless waxworks to their real-life counterparts and the gory ‘Chamber of Horrors’ is more likely to have you in fits of giggles than racing for the door in terror.
4) Kilmainham Gaol
Visiting one of Europe’s largest unoccupied gaols might not rank highly on most traveler’s to-do lists, but a tour of the Kilmainham Gaol makes for a fascinating insight into Ireland’s tumultuous history as well as the chance to walk the halls that once housed some of Ireland’s most famous criminals and rebellion leaders. A museum and gallery feature exhibitions on the history of Irish nationalism, as well as showcasing leftover prisoner’s wares.
5) The National Leprechaun Museum
There are few things more quintessentially Irish than the green-suited, cheeky-grinned Leprechaun, and this timely museum is not only a tribute to the gold-smuggling fairies but a truly bizarre journey into the wacky realm of Irish folklore. Guests can climb through a ‘shrinking’ tunnel into a giant tearoom a la Alice in Wonderland, make a wish at the end of the rainbow and hunt for pots of gold. Yes, really.