The people, places and things that make Dublin special.

When TripAdvisor speaks, the world listens. In 2015, the online resource named the Little Museum of Dublin as Ireland’s top museum in its Travellers’ Choice Award, pipping heavy-hitters like the Croke Park Stadium Tour & GAA Museum and the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street. More recently, they also bagged the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award 2016.

These accolades are all the more remarkable considering that the Little Museum of Dublin is a relative newbie, having opened up its doors in 2011. Secondly, and unlike other countries, Ireland has a largesse of free attractions so the fact that one which carries an (admittedly small) fee of €7 still manages to come out with first ranking speaks volumes. That said, for the princely figure of €30, members can avail of free visits all year. And it’s still growing in popularity, rising from 24,248 visitors in 2012 to 80,601 in 2014 and some 100,000 visitors last year.

The brainchild of Trevor White, formerly editor of The Dubliner Magazine, and curated by Simon O’Connor, the museum is housed in a fabulous Georgian building on St Stephen’s Green. Not-for-profit, its collection has been donated or loaned by the public, with over 5,000 eclectic artefacts ranging from James Joyce’s death mask to the signage from much-missed Dublin music club McGonagles. They also plays host to illuminating lectures and the occasional live happening.

Marking the centenary of The Rising is ‘Shadow Women’, a specially commissioned exhibition of embroidered portraits by textile artist Ciara Harrison, capturing the wives of prominent rebel leaders. Rock fans can genuflect at the altar that is the permanent U2 exhibition. ‘U2: Made in Dublin’ is curated by fans and tells the tale of the band’s rise over the last four decades, featuring amongst many other items a Trabant car, U2 condoms and a life-size sculpture of MacPhisto himself.

Little Museum of Dublin

News feature on the U2 exhibition

The museum’s series of lectures that take place on a monthly basis always provide rich food for thought; for school-goers, there’s the ‘I Love Dublin’ classes for school children ages 6–17. Of course, all this culture does tend to work up an appetite and in the basement of The Little Museuem you’ll one of the city’s best lunch spots. Hatch & Son is famed for its blaas, the soft Co. Waterford bread roll that (like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Champagne) now has protected status. After your museum visit, refuel with one of these, heaving with St Tola cheese, roasted roots and beetroot relish, followed by some apple cinnamon cake, and you’ve just had one of the best possible days that you could have in Dublin city.

Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

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