Childhood: the Dead Zoo Dublin

Childhood: the Dead Zoo (Natural History Museum) Dublin

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.

Investigating 1

Investigating 2

We couldn’t resist taking this shot, Silence of the Lambs anyone?

Silence of the Lambs

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!


Teaching 1

The wee girl was on a mission to see as much as possible, as fast as possible…

On a Mission

Which did eventually result in needing a rest…

Rest 1

Rest 2

Her big brother kept her company, before managing to engage her in looking at some more animals. This was really quite lovely to watch.

Teaching 2

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!

Ice Cream

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!

End of a Long Day 1

End of a Long Day 2


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23 thoughts on “Childhood: the Dead Zoo Dublin”

  1. Playing tourist in a city can be fun, and at the same time exhausting – just look at the the Wee Girl’s face!!
    The Natural History Museum looks really interesting – in fact, the inside of the building is almost identical to the one in Oxford. But it’s shocking to think that the black market for ivory is so powerful that people are prepared to steal from within a museum.
    Looks like you had a lovely day out and enjoyed our time away.

    1. I know I couldn’t believe it when I saw the sign about the ivory! It was a lovely afternoon, but we definitely broke the children :)

  2. This place would give my mummy nightmares for sure!! The moth is scary! Love how you call it the dead zoo! Lol We love Dublin, last time my mummy went she got very drunk! Opps ;) Great post thanks for sharing #letkidsbekids

    1. Yes, the last time the husband and I actually made into the city centre we probably did the same… :)

  3. Aw wow they do look so exhausted in those last photos! Bless them, they had clearly enjoyed themselves though and sounds like a great, albeit dated, museum. I love that 6yo is wearing his burger king crown for the whole day too, what a cutie!! Xx

  4. Sounds like a lovely nostalgic day out. It must be difficult for museums to keep up with changes. Love the enormous bubbles!
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    1. Thank you, it was actually a really interesting visit, it felt a little like we’d stepped back in time!

  5. lol @ “Silence of the lambs”! We have many “dead zoos in Italy. And to be perfectly honest, we’ve decided not to visit any more real zoos and aquariums that aren’t petting zoos with farm animals after a bad experience in a zoo that was poorly run. Perhaps these zoo museums are the best way to let kids see animals up close without locking them in cages for the rest of their lives.
    I ‘don’t know….but I do know your day sounds lovely and your pictures are so pretty. My husband and I have talked about going to Dublin for YEARS (at Easter, specifically).

    I would love to have you link tis up to a new travel linkup for both lifestyle and travel bloggers called #REASONS2TRAVEL, I’m co-hosting with some fantastic bloggers and we’re always looking for other co-hosts to feature. Come on by the blog today, you can find the linkup here !

    Angie from reasons to dress, fashion, travel and life as a mom in Italy.

    1. I’m with you on zoos, they have to be well managed… And, thanks for the invite, I’ll pop over and link up in a bit :)

  6. Hi Sara, I love museums, they’re fascinating places. When I saw your post title, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but The Dead Zoo looks like it was a hit for your family. And isn’t it nice being buggy free, even if it does hold you back waiting for little legs to keep up….Love the pictures of the little ones exploring together.


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