Archive for the ‘Museums, Galleries, etc’ Category

St Patrick’s Cathedral, tower and roof tour

25 October 2011

By Juliana Adelman

I was lucky enough to accompany some of the winners of our competition on the prize tour of the tower and roof of St Patrick’s Cathedral.  The tour was given by the cathedral’s two new (and excellent) education officers, Andrew and Laura.  This post is illustrated with photos taken by Ciarán McCabe, one of the winners and a pretty darn good photographer too.  Although the views from the roof were stunning, I think my favourite view was the one in this first picture.  The first stop as you climb the tower is a little ledge in front of the stained glass window that faces onto Patrick Street.  From there you really get a sense of the magnificence of the cathedral and of the height of the vaulted ceiling.  We then climbed further and visited the ringing room.  The ringing room had the strange feeling of a place where someone had put down their cup of tea and walked out fifty years ago, never to return.  In fact, the bells in St Patricks are still rung by people and not machines and the room is very much in use.  [If you are interested in bell ringing I have to recommend The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers, a mystery novel that centres around a small cathedral town and its bell ringing.] Read more

Top Five: Museums (a personal choice)

14 September 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

I am, I must admit, not the biggest fan of museums. Monuments, yes. Galleries, certainly. But there’s something about museums that often seems, well, too wordy, unfocussed, or over-done. Which might seem like an odd admission, coming from (a) an historian, and (b) one about to list his five favourite museums. But read on…

The British Museum
Start with a classic. If you can get over the size – in many ways it’s too big, and there’s too much that you simply don’t want to see. And if you can ignore the provenance of its artefacts and how many of them were acquired. Then there is so much to excite and amaze, on repeated visits, that you can always find yourself in an unexpected room, in an unexpected wing, or on an unexpected floor – for hours on end. That and the A History of the World in 100 Objects tie-in has opened a whole new way of exploring even the most obscure exhibit. Oh, and it’s free too.  Read More

Strokestown Famine Museum Project

24 August 2011

Contributed by Joanne McEntee

‘Twas the black potatoes the scattered
our people
Facing the poorhouse or overseas
And in the mountain cemetery do they
in hundreds lie …’

The above verse, taken from Amhrán na bPrátaí Dubha (The Song of the Black Potatoes), starkly reveals the immense impact of the Great Famine 1845-50. While it is easy to get lost in figures with the 1851 census revealing how at a national level some 2,400,000 or more than a quarter of the population were lost through death or emigration, one can only imagine the effect of such losses at a local level.

Various museums exist across the country that exploring different aspects of the famine from a local perspective. From Doagh to Donaghmore, and from St. Mary’s Church, to the Jeanie Johnston to mention but a few, such local sites act as significant reminders in their vicinities and beyond of both the suffering and immense endurance of man. Although billed as the Irish national famine museum, the Strokestown Park museum, Roscommon appears to remain outside of the consciousness of many. Read more

Most popular tourist attractions

23 August 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

As a tour guide I am always interested in what history attractions  people visit while they are visiting Ireland. If you thought Dublin’s most popular attraction was the Guinness storehouse you were wrong. It may be well visited but it’s not what people talk about when they go home. It may also surprise you favourite tourist sites change year in year out and depending on weather, advertising, revamping and of course new sites opening up. Here are what the top-rated and most popular attractions in and about Irish cities  according to contributors to

Dublin: 1. An evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies at the Brazen Head (quite a few of my tourists have mentioned this one to me and it is definitely a visitor favourite), 2. Glasnevin cemetery, Read more

Clubs and Societies in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

19 August 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

This week I have been reading James Kelly & Martyn Powell (ed) Clubs and Societies in Eighteenth-Century Ireland (Four Courts, 2010). The image attached is of the Limerick Hellfire Club and was painted by James Worsdale. I did not know until reading David Ryan’s excellent article on the Dublin Hellfire Club that the painter of this fantastic image also painted both the Dublin and the London Hellfire Clubs earlier.  Although David Ryan says that Worsdale held a ‘limited artistic ability’ I love this painting. Ryan says that Worsdale ‘demonstrated a knack for obtaining lucrative commissions. Over the course of his career his subjects included George II, Princess Louisa and Mary, William, duke of Devonshire, and the duchess of Newcastle.’ The image of the Dublin Hellfire Club, which is held in the National Gallery, is the image used on the cover of Kelly and Powell’s book while the painting of Limerick Hellfire Club (above) has also been used recently for David Fleming’s book, Politics and Provincial People: Sligo and Limerick 1691-1761 (Manchester University Press, 2010). Both paintings are interesting in that they put a face to elite clubs in eighteenth century Ireland but I find this one in particularly because it includes a woman.

Heritage week at St Patrick’s Cathedral

17 August 2011

Contributed by Andrew Smith

St Patrick’s Cathedral have a fantastic Heritage Week line up this year (19th-23rd August), events include; talks on Jonathon Swift, the British Legion in Ireland, tours of the Cathedral, family trails, free organ recitals and a historical re-enactment of a fight which took place between medieval knights and which gave rise to the expression “to chance your arm”. All events are free. For full listings go to

The National Print Museum

29 July 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

The National Print Museum’s permanent exhibition was re-opened last week by Minister Deenihan following a revamp. It is joined by a photographic exhibition called Analogue. The National Print Museum works to preserve printing material and artefacts (including a replica Guttenberg press) as well as printing traditions. The museum manager Carla Marrinan says that the new exhibition allows the history of printing to be ‘more accessible than ever’. The museum runs a number of workshops which can be taken by the public and which teach and explore traditional printing techniques including bookmaking, papermaking, batik (the process of dyeing fabric), calligraphy and linocutting. The Museum also runs a lecture series which will begin again in September.

The museum opens Monday- Friday 9.00-17.00, Saturday and Sunday 14.00-17.00 (closed Bank holidays)

Admission: 3.50 euro, 2 euro concession, 7 euro family

Carnival Museum

27 July 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

In my last post I mentioned that I visited Cuba this summer. The one museum I had as a ‘must see’ was the Carnival Museum in Santiago de Cuba. The earliest written record of Carnival being celebrated in Santiago dates to 1679 and the festivities centered around dancing and drinking to mark and celebrate the summer season. Its believed the practice probably came from Spain where Carnivals were held from the sixteenth century. Carnival in Santiago is one of the biggest celebration of its kind in the Caribbean.

The Carnival Museum exhibits costumes, masks and musical instruments which were used in the parades and festivities and brings visitors through the history of the festivity in Santiago documenting periods when the Carnival was prohibited or when certain groups were not allowed to take part.  Photographs are not allowed in the museum so I was limited to photographing some of the murals on the walls outside.

The museum draws a huge number of tourists and the museum made me think of  St. Patrick’s Day Festival. I have to admit that I was really impressed this year by the Dublin parade which had a literary theme to celebrate the city being awarded the title of a UNESCO literary city. Read more

The Irish Landed Estates Database

12 July 2011

Contributed by Joanne McEntee

One could be forgiven for supposing that the contemporary terms ‘ghost estates’ or ‘abandoned estates’ merely exist as part of the historic nomenclature of the now defunct world of operating Irish landed estates. Yet the ghost estates of yesteryear are now as visible and accessible to the public as their twenty-first century brethren thanks to the recent launch of the Munster Landed Estates Database. Complementing the already existing Connacht database and maintained by the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway, the Landed Estates Database provides a comprehensive and integrated resource guide to landed estates and historic houses in Connacht and Munster, c. 1700-1914. Seeking to assist and support researchers working on social, economic, political and cultural Irish history, this user-friendly website should not confound even those claiming not to be au fait with the rapidly expanding world of digitization. The fact alone that the website records over 4500 houses and provides images for approximately half of those bears testament to the Trojan work of the researchers Marie Boran and Brigid Clesham in undertaking such a monumental task. Read More

Listening to the world (in 100 objects)

22 June 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

On a Friday afternoon last October, at the end of a particularly intensive week’s photographing at the National Archives in Kew, I took the opportunity of a few hours rambling around London before catching the late flight from Heathrow. Bag safely ensconced in the left luggage at St Pancras, I headed for the British Museum with the germ of an idea. For months I’d been listening to – and loving – the museum’s ambitious collaborative project with BBC Radio 4: A History of the World in 100 Objects.

I arrived by the way I always seem to manage to get to the British Museum: not by the grand steps of the front entrance, but through that innocuous back/side entrance that makes you feel as though you’ve snuck in to the heart of the building without running the gambit of the groups of school children that range from the unruly to the genuinely interested via the more common expression: I’d-rather-be-somewhere/anywhere-else. (Innocuous, of course, except for the giant stone lions outside, but why would a historian let facts get in the way of a good narrative?)

The plan, in as much as I had one, was to pick – at random – two or three objects from the sixty or so episodes still on my iPod, occupy a quiet bench and listen as the persuasive voice of Niall McGregor, the museum’s director, guided me through the detail and context of a set of coins from eight century Syria. Read More