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Daniel in Dublin – Collins Barracks

a large stone building with a clock tower

Continuing with my quest to expand local knowledge and learn a little more about the history of our lovely city, I decided to visit the National Museum of Decorative Arts & History.

This time I was joined by my colleague Anna. We went on a sunny Thursday afternoon in March but wish we had left more time to explore the place as you could spend the whole day there without seeing the same thing twice.

We didn’t know what to expect when we arrived, but the lovely staff helped us find our bearings within the huge grounds of Collins Barracks and excitedly told us about the four exhibitions currently on display.

The first exhibition we went to see was the Military Exhibition and it was huge! Just when you thought you had reached the end of the exhibition it would open into an entirely new room talking about a completely new battle. As two locals we learnt about parts of our history that we didn’t even know existed and even learnt a lot about modern warfare and Irelands role as peacekeepers around the globe.

If you can think of a conflict around the world over the last 500 years, you can bet there was some Irish lad fighting in it.

Some parts of the exhibit are extremely harrowing and poignant. I certainly felt it while looking at the coat Michael Collins was wearing when he got assassinated.

a man wearing a suit and tie

The whole experience was very interactive including, touch screens, moving panels, audio description and opportunities to interact with elements if the exhibit, like getting to hold a replica of an old gun.

In our case, we took so much time exploring the military part it left us with little time to visit the other exhibitions. We still did, just didn’t spend nearly as much time there.

The next exhibit we went to explore was a display of interesting Irish artefacts including Irish silverware, musical instruments, a collection of coins & medals and clothing.

For anyone with an interest in old coins, like our lovely driver Robert, I highly recommend this exhibit as they go into lots of detail on the creation and history behind Irish currency.

a person standing in a room

There is also the opportunity to see the Asgard – a ship which was filled with guns by the Germans during WW1 and was met in Howth by Irish rebels who would go on to use the guns to aid in the upcoming Irish rebellion against the British.

The pure scale of this vessel is captivating, and you can learn all about the journey of the team who were tasked with restoring it.

a man standing in front of a building

The last exhibition we visited explores Irish Geology and shows us how minerals extracted from our soil can go onto be used in everyday household items. We didn’t spend too long in this exhibition but for anyone with an interest in geology or the environment around us it is worth a visit with interesting visual displays.

a box filled with different kinds of donuts

The buildings alone are worth a visit.

All in all, both Anna and I really enjoyed our visit to the National Museum of Decorative Arts & History. I highly recommend the museum for anyone interested in learning more about Irish history, especially military and geological history. The exhibitions are huge, the staff were friendly and after all its FREE so why not PAY it a visit (see what I did there?)

a woman standing in front of a statue of a man

We will definitely be returning to learn more about the exhibits we didn’t spend as much time in.

Daniel & Anna