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National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology

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While strolling down Kildare Street, enter for free this beautiful Victorian Palladian style museum and step back through the history of Ireland from the beautiful and artistic Prehistoric period to the savagery of the Celts through to the advancement of mankind in the Iron Age, the bloody and wild history of the Vikings in Ireland and the history of social division in Ireland during the Medieval period. The museum also houses a wonderful international collection; a myriad of objects from the great empires of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

This architecturally stunning museum boasts a fabulous ‘Treasures of Ireland' exhibit; a dazzling collection of ancient Irish gold, one of the largest gold exhibits in Europe, dating from 2200 BC to the 12 th Century. Breathtaking prehistoric golden sundiscs and crescent golden collars are among the oldest exhibits, spanning to the beautiful golden filigree detail of the Tara Brooch circa 8 th Century or the 12 th Century Cross of Cong.

If jewels and gold don't glitter for you, other notable exhibits are the ‘Prehistoric Ireland' displays on Neolithic farming, Bronze Age weapon displays and a 4,500 year old boat, while the Celtic Iron Age ‘Kingship and Sacrifice' exhibit of human bog bodies preserved and discovered in Irish bogs for hundreds of years is sure to make you feel alive again.

Evidence of the Viking's conquest of Ireland was found in Viking graves of the 9 th and 10 th centuries; the museum houses a startling collection of finds from excavations between 1962 and 1981, documenting Viking Irish-Scandinavian history from 800AD to 1150 AD. A beautiful collection of silver ornaments illustrates the wealth of the period, while artefacts from rural life during the period are also on display.

Should you be more interested in Ecclesiastical Ireland, three classes of Irish citizens during the Medieval period are represented in the Medieval Ireland exhibit. You will find three separate galleries dedicated to the Nobles, Commoners and Clergy of Ireland from 1150AD to 1550AD. Witness the church traditions, pastoral life and the surviving armouries of the nobles. A fine selection of church objects is on display with croziers, church bells and and book shrines all gracing the first floor of the museum.

The museum also houses a fine collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts acquired from archaeological digs carried out in Egypt between the 1890s and the 1920s and ranging in date from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. Among the most impressive objects exhibited are the golden painted plastered mummy wrappings of the mummy Tentdinebu dated from the 22nd Dynasty c. 945 - 716 BC; the portraits of a mummified woman and a mummified young boy from Hawara dated to the first/second Century AD; and a model of a wooden boat dated to the early 12th Dynasty c. 1900 BC. There is also a fantastic range of items recovered in tombs such as jewellery, household objects, tables, and tablets carved with intricate hieroglyphics.

Ancient Cypriot glass and ceramics also warrant an individual exhibit. The artefacts are arranged in chronological order, from the Bronze Age of 2500 BC to the late Roman period, about 300 AD. The history and culture of Cyprus are represented within the variety in the decoration of the artefacts and objects.

Finally, the museum has recently installed a wonderful exhibit entitled ‘Life and Death in the Roman World.' The collection includes a wide range of textiles, glass vessels, ceramics, sculpture, coins and gemstones from places far and wide such as Egypt, Austria and England.

The museum runs interactive activities for adults and children alike, ranging from calligraphy and print-making to creating brass rubbings or prehistoric pots, and comes highly recommended for families and children.

The museum is well laid out allowing you to go directly to the section you are most interested in, or spend hours avoiding the Irish rain, browsing the exhibits. You may also be lucky enough to time your visit over one of the many temporary exhibitions that the museum hosts as an additional bonus.

The museum houses a warm and inviting café, which is also child and baby friendly.

Opening hours are:
Tuesday to Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 2pm - 5pm.
Closed Mondays (including Bank Holidays), Christmas Day and Good Friday.


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