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Way down deep in the Congo...
The Collins barracks which provide the home for this museum does not lend itself easily to the display of large items. This problem has bee solved, in part, by the building of a small modern extension. Most of the exhibits there relate to the 'UN50' exhibition. Thus traces the distinguished involvement of the Irish army with peace keeping operations across the globe. I suspect that part of their success stems from the innate sense of fairness that is found in Ireland. That and the fact that the Irish have never invaded anywhere !
I especially like the stories from the Congo in the 1950's. Soldiers left Ireland wearing hobnailed boots and brass-buttoned high necked ‘bullswool' tunics. They wondered why the USAF who flew them out were laughing all the way. It is quite a while before the poor men could stop cooking and breathe again in 'safari' uniforms. Even funnier (although probably made up) is the story that one particular soilder left a note on the kitchen table that he had 'gone to Cong o'. His wife thought he must have meant Cong, County Mayo. She was somewhat surprised that he didn't return for six months.
Trouble at post office
The dramatic events of the 1916 uprising are covered on great detail in a new exhibition at the National museum in the Collins barracks. The attempted coup and drastic reprisals still resonate throughout the city. From the General post office on O'Connel street that still as bulletholes in it's columns to Hill 16 at Croke park where the British armt fired on supports to Kilmainam prison where the ringleader met their end.
Original documents, artefacts, guns, uniforms and explanation abound. The build-up, political situation, and the resultant war of independence all are fairly dealt with. It's very factual and balenced lacking any note of triumphalism. I found it fascinating, but it proved a challenge to explain to my 4-year old why these people wanted to set light to the customs house in Dublin - which was lit up in a picture in the exhibition.
Decorative Arts & History Museum
The National Museum of Ireland's Decorative Arts and History Museum is situated on the site of the historical Collins Barracks. The barracks are named after Michael Collins, the first Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Free State Army. The place is worth visiting just to see the former barracks buildings and imposing central square. Inside the exhibits include traditional Irish and British armour, coinage and treasure troves and 18th century-present Irish costume and furniture. I particularly enjoyed browsing the military exhibits and learning more about Ireland's fight for independence. The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 - 17:00 Sunday: 14:00 - 17:00.
Closed Mondays (including Bank Holidays), Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Admission is free.
- Historical Travel
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It;s missing a certain something...
The barracks that house the national museum were originally called just that - "The Barracks". They were later called "The royal Barracks" and after independence "The Collins Barracks". The building have now been home to the nations' attic for about 10 years. Although at one point the largest barracks in Europe (or is it the world ?) and the oldest one be continually used as such, the history seems underplayed.
The central square or parade ground still has a strong military bearing and almost still seems to echo with the testosterone fuelled commands of psychotic sergeant-majors.
The place desperately needs a focal point to make it actually feel like a museum. They had a viking longboat for a while, but it went home. Any ideas ? I rather fancy a fifty foot high pint of Guinness.
The National Museum & 'The emergency'.
The national museum is a disparate organisation, but the main site is dominated by the military and decorative arts collections.
The more 'modern' section of the military collection includes a modern extension which houses various tanks, a couple of planes and some heavy artillery. The Irish army from independence onwards (1923-present) has gained a distinguished reputation in supporting UN peacekeeping work.
In between all the military hardware lies a little section dedicated to Ettie Steinberg. Ettie was the one Irish Jew who perished in the Nazi Genocide during WW2 (or 'the emergency' as it is known in Ireland). It comes as something of a shock when most military museums that cover the area concentrate on the vast numbers involved. It is also somewhat ironic that Ettie is remembered here as 'Dublin's No1 Nazi' ran the National museum in the 1930's. This little Hitler (and almost unbelievably his name was Adolf Mahr ) fled to Germany shortly before the outbreak of war. Some suspect he was a Nazi spy.
The position of the state during WW2 is somewhat glossed over. The official line is that Ireland stayed neutral to avert resurrecting arguments within Ireland about helping the old colonial power of Britain. Others have far less charitable views of the then position of Irish leaders. Churchill certainly saw it as betrayal. Whatever the truth, as many as two-thirds of the Irish army at the outbreak of war signed up to allied forces. Their contribution to the assault on Gallipolli was substantial. Many were also involved in desert campaigns and the D-day landings.
When you visit the pre-viking exhibition, the sheer wealth of the the gold and silver treasures of the Irish chieftains will overawe you. Ireland must have been a prosperous country in these days ... as it has become today. A must-see!
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- Arts and Culture
Natural Museum of Decorative Arts & History
This museum is located in a barracks which was erected in 1701. The museum will take you true the economic, social, political and military progress through the ages. The central square is magnificent . Also on display you will find weaponry, furniture, folk life to costumes, silver and glassware. The Museum has just launched "Afterdark", which basically means themed nights where visitors can sip wine and eat canapes to accompany special viewings.
You will also find a cafe, museum gift shop and free car parking.
Tues-Sat: 10am-5pm,Sunday 2pm-5pm,closed Monday.
Admission is free.
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