What makes a museum a museum? Maybe a large collection of carefully categorised, alphabetised and numbered artefacts held in a spacious building springs to mind, but that all goes out the window when visiting Dublin's Little Museum, situated across from St Stephens Green in Dublin’s fair city.
This little museum, that sits comfortably inside an iconic Georgian house in Dublin 2, is home to the quirky, sometimes forgotten, and a tad absurd history of this amazing city. From personalities, to one-off artefacts that you can actually touch and feel, there’s also a whole room celebrating Dublin's most legendary band U2. The museum is really dedicated the characters that made Dublin the amazing city that it is today.
While it’s footprint is quite small, all the walls are plastered wall to ceiling with images, posters and memorabilia, donated by the people of Dublin, that highlights particular times in Dublin’s history and these walls take us through every decade of the 21st century in a truly comical nature that only Dubliners could get away with.
There are kids activities in every room, providing a very “touch and feel” experience for them and a welcome difference for parents who often have to tell their kids they can't touch things when in a museum.
There’s a whole room dedicated to Dublin’s favourite Lord Mayor, Alfie Byrne, he was born on Saint Patricks Day and served ten times as Lord Mayor, he was nicknamed “the shaking hand of Dublin,” as there was not a party or ceremony that the man missed. There were records of him attending up to 20 parties in one day! His complete collection is on display in the museum.
Of course American President JFK’s visit to Dublin was a memorable one for all Irish people. On display in the museum was the wooden music stand that was used as a podium for his speech made in the Dail during his visit. A podium was not traditionally used in parliament in Ireland so the closest thing they could find was this antique music stand. There’s a copy of the speech sitting on it and you can pretend to be him if you like!
Every hour there's a tour of the museum which is the oral history of Dublin smushed into an animated and entertaining 30 minutes, our tour guide Jesse delightfully told us of the history of the Georgian House we were standing in and the part it and the family played in the Easter Rising 1916 as well as the goings on in St Stephens Green. The poor classes of Dublin were also highlighted in the story of the tenements, and my heart broke to hear of more than a hundred people living in one house no bigger than the one were in.
Yet, my favourite exhibit is one that reminisces of my childhood in Ireland, eating packets of pickled onion Monster Munch chips. There’s a gold plated packet of monster munch on display made by a local artist to highlight that the “Celtic Tiger” times of the 1990’s in Ireland were all shiny on the outside but full of junk on the inside.
So when in Dublin, make sure to get out of the rain for a bit and away from the shops by visiting the best little museum in the universe.
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Paul (Friday, 07 January 2022 14:25)
Saying that Alfie Byrne was Dublin's favorite Lord Mayor is a bit odd. The Museum's exhibition to the Lord Mayor has been controversial. Not everyone in Dublin was fond of the Lord Mayor because of the Lord Mayor's enthusiastic support for Irish and European fascism.
Eimear McNelis (Friday, 07 January 2022 15:54)
Thanks for your local perspective Paul and Happy New Year.