The Bottom Line
- Huge archaeological and historical collection from prehistory to the middle ages.
- Many iconic exhibits like the Tara Brooch and similar artifacts.
- Excellent exhibition on bog bodies.
- Photography not allowed.
- Arrangement of exhibitions can be confusing.
- Main collection of Irish archaeological finds up to and including the middle ages.
- Exhibitions of note focus on gold hoards, medieval treasures and the archaeology of Viking Dublin.
- Exhibition "Kingship & Sacrifice" showcases four Irish bog bodies and their origins.
Guide Review - National Museum of Ireland (Kildare Street, Dublin)
Upon entering the National Museum in Kildare Street you will be struck by the grand cupola in the entrance hall. The building itself is an attraction - but the treasures contained within are priceless.
You will be confronted immediately with gold - hoards of gold actually, dating from prehistoric times and buried or hidden for ages. The rich ornamentation and subtle craftsmanship has to be seen. Most visitors will, however, turn right and enter the treasure chamber. Celtic and early medieval artifacts are on display, several of them having gained an iconic status. The Tara Brooch, shrines, crosiers and other church paraphernalia are covered with unbelievably detailed ornaments. Hidden away in a corner the rougher Sheila-na-Gig glares in contrast.
One of the newest exhibitions is "Kingship & Sacrifice", a presentation focusing on four bog bodies of uncertain origin, including iconic Clonycavan Man. Better preserved than Egyptian mummies, these prehistoric noblemen were found during peat harvesting - one actually became part of the harvest from his waist down. This is the nearest you will ever come to face Celtic men from the Bronze Age. Thoughtfully arranged with moody lighting, the exhibition explores the (possible) reasons why these men ended up dead in a bog.
By the way - entrance to the museum is free and guided tours are available. A good (if slightly expensive) café and a well-stocked shop complement the exhibitions.