When visiting anywhere on a limited time period, decisions have to be made about where to go and what to do. Dublin is no exception but fortunately for those who like museums, many are in a short walking distance from each other. Sandwiched between Trinity College and St Stephen’s Green and flanking the Irish Houses of Parliament are the Natural History Museum, the National Museum of Ireland, the National Library and the National Gallery of Ireland.
The National History Museum which is nicknamed the ‘Dead Zoo’ by locals is quite a shock with old glass cases full of stuffed animals. It really is a step back in time and has changed little since it was opened in 1857.
It offers quite a surreal experience as you wander between the old glass cases with the only noise being the creaking floorboards. The quietness was only broken by the arrival of a school party who were told very strictly not to make any noise.
We smiled to the teacher as we passed and she apologised if we were being disturbed. If we were disturbed it was not the children but rather the eyes of hundreds of dead animals watching us moving to the exit.
The National Museum of Ireland was a more conventional museum with attractive displays of archaeological treasures that provides plenty of insights into Irish ancient past and cultures. Major highlights are the prehistoric gold ornaments, artefacts from Ireland’s early Christian Monasteries, displays about Viking Ireland and the slightly gruesome Ice Age bog body.
Part of the National Gallery of Ireland was closed but we had a very pleasant coffee in the airy and bright café and had a quick walk around the masterpiece section which included works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso and Vermeer. More of a surprise was a portrait of talk show host and celebrity Graham Norton looking very serious and quite rugged.
An entertaining couple of hours were completed by a short trip to the National Library and a wander around their Yeats exhibition.
Whilst the museums and galleries had a limited amount of exhibits and works, this is to their credit. The small spaces in very attractive buildings allows the visitor to really get some idea of the establishment before culture fatigue set in. Another plus was that they all had free admission which is great if you are on a tight budget.
Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.
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