As parents we know this can be an expensive time of year when it comes to entertaining the children during the school holidays, so we are delighted to highlight some fantastic, free family activities at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin and Mayo this summer.
Not only are these great days out for a variety of ages, they are also designed to be both fun and educational (you don’t need to tell the kids…!). From Vikings to fairies or even making your own jewellery, there is definitely plenty to appeal and get hands-on with!
Rediscover Family Activities at the National Museums of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland are looking forward to welcoming visitors back this summer. They have 3 sites open in Dublin and Mayo and alongside the amazing displays, there are events, talks and fun activities for families to enjoy, both indoors, outdoors and online.
All visits and most family activities at the National Museum of Ireland are free, but currently you must book your free ticket online before visiting.
#1. Airgead: A Thousand Years of Irish Coins & Currency
The National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History Museum is located at Collins Barracks in Dublin and has lots of interesting displays for families to enjoy when they visit. There is everything from tanks to airplanes and boats to memorabilia and historic objects from Ireland and around the world.
This summer, we recommend a visit the Airgead Exhibition where you can learn about the story of coins and money in Ireland from the 10th century to the present day. Learn about everything from medieval Viking coins and coin-hoards to modern banknotes, tokens and medals. And all about the development of paper money from the 18th century to the present, credit cards and internet banking.
With regular and interactive displays, everyone from young kids right up to grandparents will be fascinated.
#2. Make Your Own Piece of Jewellery
Would you like to learn more about the day to day work of a goldsmith’s studio? What about making your own piece of jewellery? Join jewellery designer and goldsmith Eve Doyle who will demonstrate how to make a roller embossed pendant in silver. Eve will then show you how to make your own version from air-dry clay.
Eve’s work is currently on display at the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History site as part of the new exhibition InForm. So whether you have a jewellery designer in the making or you just love to look at beautiful objects, you can enjoy online and in-person activities as part of the InForm exhibition.
#3. Discover Viking Ireland
Vikings and their descendants had a profound impact on Ireland, from their first appearance just before 800AD until after 1150AD. Traditionally seen as raiders and invaders, Vikings also helped transform Ireland economically, culturally and politically.
The Viking exhibition explores the Viking Age in Ireland through surviving objects – including objects from Viking graves of the 9th and 10th centuries and from settlement sites of the 10th to 12th centuries. Children and adults alike will find much to interest them while learning about our heritage and culture too.
#4. Online Activity: The Stone Age
From Friday August 6th, children aged 7 to 14 years and their families can discover more about the Stone Age in Ireland by downloading and printing out new activity sheets about this period in our history. Find out about megalithic art in Irish passage tombs with the ‘Megalithic Rock Art’ activity sheet. See if you can find all the words in the word search about the Stone Age in Ireland, and get an insight into how this period shaped our future.
The sheets can be used as an at-home activity for children and families, or printed off and brought to the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology as part of your visit where you will also find exhibits of objects from this time too.
#5 Fairy Trail: Of Fairies and Fairy Folk
Can you find the fairy dwellings in the grounds of the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Mayo? Have fun on this outdoor fairy trail and learn some tree folklore along the way.
Alongside each fairy settlement is an illustrated panel exploring the connections between the ethereal world of the fairies and the very real world of the National Folklife Collection on display in the Museum galleries. The panels detail the folklore associated with each tree on the route and look at the many varieties of wood used in the construction of traditional objects in the Museum.
You can either download the map ahead of your visit, or take a picture of the map on your phone or other mobile device when you get to the Museum. The map is located between Turlough Park House and the Museum galleries. With the map in hand, it is simply a matter of deciding which direction you would like to go in first. There is no one direction you need follow, nor any particular order in which the settlements need to be visited, but be sure to keep a lookout for fairy folk as you go!
#6. Cycle or Walk the Museum Greenway, Mayo
Combine a visit to the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Mayo with a scenic Greenway cycle for a great day out for all of the family.
The Castlebar to Turlough Greenway means Museum visitors can start their day with a cycle from Lough Lannagh, Castlebar, along a 10km, mainly off-road riverside route, all the way to the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life.
The Greenway follows the course of the Castlebar River and passes through peaceful countryside and woodland sections, with lots of interesting sites along the way. The route finishes in the spectacular grounds of Turlough Park, home to the only National Museum of Ireland site outside Dublin.
Designed for shared use by leisure walkers, joggers and cyclists, the trail is classed as easy to moderate. The route is waymarked using fingerpost signage with blue text and symbols on a white background and is suitable for bikes, buggies, scooters and those who want a stroll.
Allow one hour to cycle (or two hours walking) from Castlebar to the Museum and 1.5 hours to see Ireland’s National Folklife Collection and maybe even have a visit to the play area.
#7. Meet Real Life Nature Heroes
What’s the difference between a whale and a shark? Join the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History and meet a “Nature Hero” from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group to learn about whales, dolphins and sharks at this fun, family event.
Discover more about the sea-life living around the coast of Ireland and on display at the Museum. Ask your whale, dolphin and shark questions for Educators to answer live during the event, and discover who you could be swimming with next time you take a dip!
Book your free family ticket here.
#8. Take a 3D Tour of the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
The National Museum of Ireland – Natural History is currently closed for renovations, but you can still enjoy looking around the exhibits when you take a virtual 3D tour.
You can enjoy seeing mammals of the world, Irish fauna and wildlife and fishes, birds, reptiles, insects, crustaceans, shells, corals and more, all from the comfort of your own home.