During our recent visit to Dublin we managed to play tourists for the day. This doesn’t happen often, as family catch-ups take priority. In fact, we had never taken the kids into Dublin city centre before!
We took the Luas (the tram) into the city centre, getting off at Abbey Street, and started our wander from there. We had decided that we would investigate the Natural History Museum, or Dead Zoo as it is more affectionately known.
First stop was a quick bite to eat to fortify the children before we crossed O’Connell Bridge and began the walk to the museum. We had decided to attempt our first buggy free holiday this trip, so had to be more mindful of 3yo legs than usual :)
The Natural History Museum is located on Merrion Street, was built in 1856 and has changed little over the years. In fact it is often called a ‘museum of a museum’.
The ground floor of the museum is dubbed the Irish Room and, as you would expect, displays animals native to Ireland. As you enter you are greeted by giant Irish deer, with the most incredible antlers.
The displays in this room include drawers and cupboards to investigate and many smaller animals, fish and insects.
We couldn’t resist taking this shot, Silence of the Lambs anyone?
We then ventured up to the first floor where more exotic animals are displayed. These definitely show their age, but while they are tired and a bit frayed, they certainly held the children’s attention.
There were the cute animals…
The huge, slightly scary ones…
And the giant ones…
The 6yo and 8yo found plenty to see and talk about, with the 8yo helpfully reading information, or (more often) just making stuff up!
The wee girl was on a mission to see as much as possible, as fast as possible…
Which did eventually result in needing a rest…
Her big brother kept her company, before managing to engage her in looking at some more animals. This was really quite lovely to watch.
The exhibits are definitely showing their age (they have changed little in over a century) but the collection is large and interesting, with many of the display cases crammed full. The collection contains rare specimens including some now endangered and extinct animals.
It is a small, manageable size, perfect for younger children, although at the time of our visit the upper galleries (accessed from, and circling, the first floor) are closed to the public. This is a shame as looking up to them we could see that they house an fascinating display of birds and marine animals.
I was also saddened to see a notice on the rhinoceros, whose horn was missing, saying that due to increased thefts of ivory from museums the horn had been removed and would shortly be replaced with a false one.
This ‘museum of a museum’ is a beautiful building, with a strong sense of history, and certainly made for an interesting hour or so with the kids.
After leaving the museum we decided to walk back to the Luas via a different route, taking in St Stephen’s Green, where an ice cream stop was a must to enjoy the sunny afternoon. My husband enjoyed a moment of childhood nostalgia when he found Loop the Loop ice lollies for him and the kids!
We then walked down Grafton Street, taking in the street performers, including fantastic, huge bubbles!
We then crossed back over O’Connell Bridge, stopping to take a group shot of my beautiful family (even if the kids are starting to look a bit tired by this point!). Interesting fact about this bridge, it is said to be the only traffic bridge that is wider than it is long in Europe!
All that was left then was to hop on the tram back to our hotel, having had a lovely first family tourist visit into Dublin.
And, we had definitely exhausted the children!