Ireland is an extremely popular vacation spot due to its vast natural grounds, distinct European culture, Irish charm, and, of course, significant historical background. So, if there is a curious history buff inside of you, and this is one of the main reasons for your visit, you are in luck! 

If you are in Dublin for the time being, there are more than enough places to visit to learn about history and development. Out of approximately forty museums in the capital city, most are great for history fans like yourself. That being said, it might take you a bit longer to plan out an itinerary. 

No worries, though. Check out our list of the top 6 best historical museums in Dublin, and the choice will seem much easier afterward! 

1. National History Museum of Ireland – Natural History

Housed on Merrion Street in central Dublin, the National History Museum – Natural History of Ireland is only a branch of Ireland’s leading museum institution, but we suggest you start with this one! 

However much you love learning about historical dates and events, it all ultimately comes back to our evolution and development. That is why it is so important to know about natural history, and why this Dublin’s museum is so good for it! 

Sometimes referred to as the dead zoo, the museum is a vast display of all things zoology, geology, and botany. There are plenty of permanent exhibitions of over two million items for you to see. Learn about the Irish fauna, general botany facts, its movement throughout history, and even symbolism! 

As is the case with most museums, most of the items are not on display, but there are still more than enough! Explained comprehensively, the wide-ranging collections are there to introduce you to Irish botany, geology, and zoology. 

Speaking of the latter, prepare to see some rare stuff! For example, get ready to meet some exotic and extinct species, such as thylacine or a pygmy hippopotamus. There are also skeletons of unusual types of whales and one of a dodo! So, prepare for the most exciting biology class of your life and buy the tickets now! 

2. Dublinia

Wherever else you are traveling in Ireland, come back to the capital city quickly! History awaits! So, take the bus from Connemara, a ferry from Holyhead, or Galway to Dublin train, and open your eyes to another set of interesting Irish features! 

Dublinia is the heart of Medieval Ireland and Viking Dublin. While most prefer Scandinavia to learn about the brave Norsemen, Dublinia will prove them wrong! Find out about the city’s past, historical events, and development, and see it from a whole new perspective.

This is way more than just a simple museum. Dublinia is like a portal through time, allowing you to see what it was like living in Medieval Ireland and granting you an up-close look at the Viking ways. Here, you can learn about their weaponry, battleships, architecture, and general lifestyle. 

The same goes for learning about Dublin. While we know the city as this Irish giant with fun people, gorgeous cityscape, and rich culture, it used to be very different. So, find out how! 

3. The Little Museum of Dublin

While Dublinia is the one to introduce you to Medieval times here in the city, the Little Museum of Dublin is a quick, fun, and informative one that focuses on more than one time period. It is probably one of the best ones to start your exploration. 

The Little Museum of Dublin Tours - Days Out

Image Credit: dodublin

With several exhibitions and many different guided tours, the museum is an insight into the overall history of the Irish capital city. One of the best things about it is its authenticity. Of over five thousand artifacts on display, many were donated or loaned by the locals! So, not only will you get more info about the city, but you can see firsthand just how tight and patriotic this community is. 

The exhibitions cover some of the most significant events and occurrences. You can find out the history behind 1916 Rising, J. F. Kennedy’s visit to Ireland’s capital city, and many other events of great social and historical importance. 

If you are traveling with children, there are several classes prepared in a kid-comprehension style, allowing the little ones more knowledge about the city and its history. The classes are delightful and actually many tourists take them! 

4. The Jeanie Johnston Museum

The Jeanie Johnston ship differs from any other kind of museum. If the Dublinia transports you back to Medieval times, the Jeanie Johnston Museum explains the harshest details of one of the worst times in Ireland. The whole thing is done in a unique way to inform you, shock you, and make you feel incredibly grateful for the way things are now. 

The Great Famine hit Ireland in 1845, and thousands of people fled in order to save their lives. However, their escape was not all smooth. Later labeled treacherous, the escapees boarded the famous ship in hopes of finding out a better life in North America. 

While things were terrible in Ireland, the people fleeing out endured some hardships as well. Find out the gruesome stories about their struggles with overcrowding, disease, filth, starvation, and storms. While this may shock you, it also serves as a great reality check. 

The ship, however, is a perfect replica of the Janis Johnston ship and not the real thing. It sits peacefully in Dublin Docklands without the threat of a million people overcrowding it to save themselves from a disaster. Still, the ship remains as close to authentic as it can, so you will see some very real-life features. 

Make sure you take the guided tour! It only takes about 50 minutes, and you will learn all kinds of unheard-of things about this remarkable yet unfaithful voyage.

On a lighter note, you also get to find out about the ship’s history and craftsmanship! 

5. National Library of Ireland

One of the most impressive libraries in Europe, the National Library of Ireland, is a great way to learn about your own history! Now, let us explain. 

Apart from the endless lines of books and information, probably the most attractive about the National Library is that you can learn about your familial background. Many visitors indulge in this, and most come out with exciting results! 

Starting your research with the basics on your immediate family, you can access special civil records later on. Of course, it takes a while, and not everyone finds what they are looking for, but the excitement is real! Touring through the Archives of the National Library of Ireland kind of has the National Treasure vibes, right? At least the Da Vinci Code

Aside from this, the library is actually very impressive in its size and the depth of information it contains. Of course, it is only referential, meaning you cannot borrow any books or get a library card. But that just adds to the fun and the museum-y feeling the establishment already carries. 

This may not apply to you if you are just visiting, but there are plenty of locals who love to study or work there. Also, since the entrance is free of charge, and the library screams light academia, it is a great way to spend some time focusing on their own stuff.

So, either a history buff or a reader at heart, the National Library of Ireland is definitely for you! 

6. Irish Famine Museum

While it is devastating enough to learn about the Great Famine from visiting Janis Johnston, you only get the escapees’ side of the story. But what about those left to rot in Ireland? 

Donors Worry About Fate of Artifacts as Museum on Irish Famine Closes - The New York Times

Image Credit: Wyeth Architects LLC

People say that touring the Irish Famine Museum takes a lot of courage and a strong mind, but while there is nothing gleeful or fun about seeing it, it is imperative that you do. 

Following the most tragic events of the 19th century, the Irish Famine Museum takes you through the hardships the country had to face. The exhibitions all tell stories about death, eviction, disease, and hunger and how the locals tried to get through it. 

The museum uses rare photographs, witness accounts, sketches, history passages, and even short films to explain how the Great Hunger demolished Ireland for the time being. Deemed one of the worst Famines in history, it left a massive trace of desperation and hopelessness, both of which are gone now, of course. 

However, not only does the Irish Famine Museum teach you the history, but it also stands as a commemoration of all people the country has lost in the wake of these tragic events. So, it is essential to remember them. 

Here you go! Six impressive museums to visit, all different in their ways but united in their purpose! It is probably the most exciting and best way to learn about Irish history, especially if you dislike reading history books. 

So, check availability, and purchase the tour tickets. It is time to declare yourself the expert in all things Irish! 

Published by Holr Magazine.