Ten immersive museums to visit on the island of Ireland

Scene from the Mellon Homestead at the Ulster American Folk Park.

1 National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Dublin
Explore 9,000 years of history through fascinating archaeological artefacts that include Irish bog bodies, the Ardagh Chalice, the ‘Tara’ Brooch and the famous Derrynaflan Hoard. The museum is housed in a beautiful Palladian-style building that is a Dublin landmark. Throughout May, free guided tours of the museum’s highlights are on offer.

2 Ulster Museum, Belfast
There is something for every interest in this award-winning museum with collections of art, natural science and history. Delve into the history of Northern Ireland, see Ireland’s only dinosaur bones, admire the many pieces of applied art and view the special collections of work by female artists and the LGBT+ community.

3 Waterford Treasures
In Ireland’s oldest city you get not one museum but a whole quarter with four world-class museums – the Medieval Museum, the Irish Silver Museum, the Irish Museum of Time and the Bishops Palace – within minutes of each other. Bookable on one ticket, they take you back to Waterford’s Viking roots, through the treasures of the medieval age and into Georgian and Victorian times.

4 Galway City Museum
In this modern museum you can browse a fascinating collection of cultural heritage objects related to the city of Galway and its people. The oldest known Claddagh ring, war memorabilia, sports souvenirs and medieval gun money are just some of the wide variety of items on display.

5 Titanic Belfast
Belfast’s multi-award-winning visitor attraction, which tells the story of the tragic liner and the city that built her, recently reopened with four new galleries and a superb replica model of the ship. It also displays a number of extremely rare artefacts which are of great historical significance including the world-famous violin belonging to the ship’s hero musician.

6  National Famine Museum, Roscommon
Featuring a world-class multimedia exhibition, the museum tells the story of Ireland’s Great Famine through the personal tragedies of the tenants and landlords on the Strokestown Estate. It explains the events that led to the forced emigration of 1,490 people from the estate in 1847 and is also the starting point for the National Famine Way, a walking and cycling trail from Roscommon to Dublin.

7 Ulster American Folk Park, Tyrone
The Ulster American Folk Park tells the story of Ulster people’s emigration to North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this part outdoor, part indoor museum, you’ll learn about life in rural Ireland, the hardships endured on the journey across the Atlantic and how migrants built new lives in a new land.

8 National Museum of Country Life, Mayo
Step back into daily life in rural Ireland in days gone by at the National Museum of Country Life. With exhibitions of household objects, trades and crafts, bicycles and more, you’ll discover how people lived, worked, celebrated and how their traditions sustained them.  

9 Hunt Museum, Limerick
Housing over 2,000 works of art and antiquities from the estate of John and Gertrude Hunt, this museum exhibits ancient treasures, as well as paintings by Picasso, Renoir and Jack B Yeats. The collection spills into the outdoors continuing in the Museum in a Garden, where some of the museum’s key artefacts are reproduced at large scale.

10 Tower Museum, Londonderry
With two permanent exhibitions – The Story of Derry and An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera – and frequently updated temporary exhibitions, the Tower Museum in the walled city of Derry~Londonderry is a top visitor attraction. The museum also boasts an open-air viewing facility with panoramic views of the city and River Foyle.