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Collins Barracks - Decorative Arts and History Museum of Ireland

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Whether you are a carpenter or a fashion designer, a silversmith or coin collector, or purely an Irish historian, there is something for everyone at Collins Barracks. The museum truly is a historical record of Irish society, from Irish Independence to the culture and arts of the Irish free state. Access to the museum is by the main pedestrain gate at Benburb Street. The city tram, known as ‘The Luas' has a stop for Collins Barracks on the red line, which is directly opposite this entrance.

The building itself has a lot of significance in Irish history. Originally built by the British in 1702 and known as just ‘The Barracks', it was extended in the 18 th and 19 th century. Originally a British garrison fort, it was handed over to the Irish free state in 1922.

Theobald Wolfe Tone, a prominent figure in all Irish school history books of today, was one of the main leaders of the Irish rebellion in 1798 and was held prisoner, court marshalled and convicted at The Barracks. During the Irish 1916 Easter Rising, British soldiers were deployed from The Barracks, tasked with quashing the Irish rebellion. Upon the end of the Irish War of Independence in 1922, the building was handed over to the newly created Irish free state, and was immediately renamed ‘Collins Barracks' after the Commander-in-Chief of the Irish rebellion, Michael Collins. After closing as an Irish garrison in 1988, it was reopened as part of the National Museum of Ireland as the Decorative Arts and History Museum in 1997.

The museum pays tribute to its chequered past with a dedicated exhibit to the 1916 Easter Rising where one can admire nationalistic art. One of the highlights of this collection is an original copy of the Proclamation of the Republic; the document in which Ireland declared its independence from Britain. Pádraig Pearse read this Proclamation outside the General Post Office on Easter Monday 1916. He was later executed. The exhibit outlines the events of the 1916 Easter Rising and details of those executed in the cause of Irish national freedom.

Of the remaining eleven permanent exhibit collections, the visitor is spoiled for choice.

Think of Irish fashion as woolly knitted jumpers and tweed trousers? Think again. View the surprisingly fashionable and often European influences on garments of traditional Irish clothing in ‘The Way We Wore' exhibit.

Before the Euro abolished the minted national pride of its member countries there was a long history of beautiful and artistic currency in Ireland. View over a thousand years of coins and banknotes from Medieval times to the present in ‘Airgead, A Thousand Years of Irish Coins and Currency'.

Or perhaps you would prefer to sit down and rest among the amazing Irish craftsmanship of mahogany, oak and satinwood furniture spanning from the late 17 th Century to the modern and functional chrome furniture of the 20 th Century.

The gem of the collection may be said to be the phenomenal silver collection, displayed and explained in its cultural context. Religious, ceremonial, domestic and decorative; all uses of silver from the 17 th century onward are waiting for your perusal.

But the highlight of most in this fabulous museum is the ‘Soldiers and Chiefs' exhibit, attesting to the history of Irish soldiers at home, abroad and into the 21 st century. Uniforms, weapons, scale models of planes and automobiles, and accounts of prisoners bring the Irish war history to life in front of your eyes. Learn about Irish participation in the American Civil War, the British war service where Irishmen took ‘the King's shilling' to fight in their battles, all the way to the modern day Irish peacekeeping forces internationally. The colourful history of Ireland and her sons is laid out for you to see.

Children have the chance to try on uniforms and handle artefacts in the fantastic Barracks Life Room. All this and much more is waiting for your visit at Collins Barracks.

There is a quaint gift shop selling specialist books, jewellery and souvenirs, and all the family can relax and revive at the child friendly café in the museum.

Entrance is free, and the museum is open:
Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 2pm - 5pm
Closed Mondays (including Bank Holidays), Christmas Day and Good Friday.


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