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National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology

The historical and archaeological treasures of Ireland are housed in this extraordinary Victorian building. Admission is FREE to this wonderful attraction, which is capped by a beautiful, 62-foot high dome. The floor inside has a detailed mosaic of the zodiac. The museum itself was established in 1890. Over the last century and a half, it has accumulated treasures that range from Ireland's prehistoric times; through the Celtic and Gaelic eras of clans and chieftains; then the various medieval periods, including the Viking and Norman invasions; through modern Irish history and struggle for independence, up to the present day. 

Official promotional clip for the Museum

The collection is divided into a number of major exhibits. Some of the main exhibits are listed below. 

Ór (Gold)

Ór (Ohr), a Gaelic word meaning "gold", is the name of the exhibit of Ireland's precious gold artworks. It contains ancient jewellery and art from as far back as 1800 B.C. Objects range from bracelets and dress-fasteners to gold collars and ear-spools. 

Kingship and Sacrifice

This exhibit shows the amazing "bog bodies" -- two prehistoric, mummified bodies from the Bronze age that were found at different times in two different peat bogs in recent years. Using "cold case" methods of modern forensic science, historians have been able to discover much about these ancient people, including what they ate. They have also theorised the reasons -- to do with ritual and human sacrifice -- they may have been killed and left in these bogs. 

The Treasury

The Treasury gets its name because it hosts a number of national treasures, including the Tara Brooch. They are from a remarkable period in Ireland's history -- when Irish people managed to create remarkable works of art while the rest of Europe was engulfed in the Dark Ages. 

The Tara Brooch

Found in 1850 on Bettystown beach in County Meath, and dating back to the 8th century, the Tara Brooch is made of white bronze, amber and glass and wonderful decorated with a delicate gold filigree. It is Ireland's finest Example of a Celtic Brooch, which was worn as a fastening brooch by important woman in the early medieval period. It served the fasten a garment that was draped over the woman's shoulders -- the pin was pushed through folds of the cloth, holding the garment firm around the woman's upper body. The brooch was not only functional, it was prominently displayed on woman's shoulder, signalling her prominence and wealth. 

The Cross of Cong

Also included in the Treasury exhibit is The Cross of Cong, dating from 1123, an ornate oak processional cross that displays extraordinary craftsmanship for the times, including silver and bronze panels.

The Ardagh Chalice

The Ardagh Chalice is a silver cup with gold filigree from the 8th century. 

Viking Ireland

The Viking Ireland exhibit includes a full-sized skeleton, swords, and other items found in and around Dublin, along with a replica of a Viking boat. 

Prehistoric Ireland

Prehistoric Ireland displays weapons and tools from the Stone and Bronze Ages. Burial customs are explained using reconstructions of actual graves. Also interesting and amusing is the collection of Sheela Na Gigs, ancient stone carvings of female figures, and the Lugan Bog Boat, recovered from a bog in Galway in 1902 and estimated to come from as far back as 2500 B.C. 

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm
  • Sunday: 2pm - 5pm
  • Mondays: Closed

Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday

Admission

FREE 

Image

Interior of the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology. Image by Juanfran.

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