Unique Places to Learn About Irish History, Heritage and Culture with Kids

Emily Manning

Emily Manning

September 9, 2021

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Are your kids looking to dive deep into how our ancestors once lived, or perhaps they want to see the ground those ancestors once walked? Ireland is full of historical hotspots just waiting to be discovered, with a great mix of options for historical days out that are fun and family-friendly. Here are some of our favourite (and kid-approved!) places to learn about Irish history, heritage and culture.

Places to Learn About Irish History

The National Museums of Ireland, Dublin and Mayo

National Museum of Ireland

There are 3 National Museum sites open in Dublin and Mayo (1 currently closed for upgrades) 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.

Book of Kells, Dublin

Book of Kells

The Book of Kells was created around the year 800AD and researchers believe that it was originally produced in a monastery on the island of Iona, off the coast of Scotland. It appears to have been created by three artists and four scribes. When Iona was attacked by Vikings, the surviving monks moved to a sister monastery in Kells, Co. Meath where it is believed the book was finished.

The Bishop of Meath presented the Book of Kells to Trinity College Dublin for safe keeping between 1661-82, and it has been housed in the Library ever since.

Newgrange, County Meath

Newgrange mythical places in Ireland

Image: © Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland

Newgrange is an old passage tomb located in the Boyne Valley in Ireland’s Ancient East, and is part of a number of monuments built along the River Boyne known collectively as Brú na Bóinne. This prehistoric monument dates back over 5,200 years ago – which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza!

Newgrange is famous for the illumination of the passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun. Built by Stone Age farmers, Newgrange is surrounded by 97 large stones, called kerbstones, some of which are engraved with megalithic art.

Glendalough, Wicklow

Glendalough for places to learn about Irish history

Image © Failte Ireland & Tourism Ireland. Courtesy of Chris Hill

Set in a picturesque glaciated valley with two lakes and historical monastic remains, including a 1000-year-old round tower, a cathedral and a church known as St Kevin’s Kitchen, a day at Glendalough is a fascinating and educational day out for both young and old.

Other amenities at this top tourist attraction include a wooden adventure playground, large outdoor picnic area, and the self-guided audio-visual tour in The Visitor Centre is not to be missed.

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Dublinia, Dublin 8

places to learn about Irish history

Take a trip to one of Dublin’s best museums with a unique viking and medieval experience. Be whisked away in time, meet the Vikings face to face and learn all about life during the Medieval period in Dublin.

While you’re at Dublinia, you can explore History Hunter, climb St. Michael’s tower and catch a glimpse of a modern city from the Medieval tower.

King John’s Castle, Limerick

Let them make their own adventures running through the courtyards and exploring the forts!

The King John’s Castle visitor experience includes an interactive exhibition, battlements and an enhanced courtyard.

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, Clare

Bunratty Castle for castles in Ireland

Go back in time with a visit to one of the most well-known castles in Ireland, Bunratty Castle in County Clare which was built in 1425. Complete with its own authentic medieval fortress, folk park with homes from the past for you to visit and see how people lived in the past, walled garden and fairy village.

At the fairy village, let the little ones explore the miniature Bunratty Castle and mini replicas of the houses that surround the folk park. There’s also a willow tunnel and willow hut in the surroundings of the magical forest trail.

An array of animals live at Bunratty who would love a visit, including donkeys, sheep, ponies, deer, goats, peacocks and ducks. Then spend some time at the Folk Park enjoying the village street complete with school, doctor’s house, pub and shops.

EPIC Irish Emigration Museum, Dublin

Places to learn about Irish history

Witnessing the history and culture housed here is an interactive and entertaining day for the whole family – and a must-see experience.

A visit to the Irish Emigration Museum is not only educational, but it’s fully equipped with easy-to-use technology and filled with memorable stories. Look into the past and discover the story of the 10 million who left Ireland once upon a time.

Irish Agricultural Museum, Johnstown Castle, Wexford

Irish Agriculture Museum at Johnstown Castle St Patrick's Day events in Ireland

The Irish Agricultural Museum is housed within the grounds of Johnstown Castle and displays one of the most comprehensive collections showcasing farming and rural life in Ireland with everything from tractors to kitchens! Visitors can:

  • Admire the large collection of beautifully restored tractors, carts, ploughs, threshing machines, stationary engines and dairy equipment
  • See recreated workshops of traditional trades including blacksmith, cooper and wheelwright
  • Learn about ‘The Great Famine’ through an exhibition which vividly reveals what life was like before, during and after the famine
  • Discover the chequered history of Johnstown Castle and its estate
  • Enjoy the largest display of Irish country furniture
  • Compare farmhouse kitchens through the ages
  • Take part in quizzes and trails (suitable for children)

Titanic, Belfast

Go deep in Irish history and learn all about the Titanic in the heart of Belfast, on the very slipways where it was built.

It’s the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience and a must-see attraction in Northern Ireland. Here, you will get to explore the shipyard, walk the decks and uncover the true legend of Titanic in the city where it all began. The experience extends over nine interactive galleries and exhibition with multiple innovative interactive features. You can also complete your Titanic Experience with a visit to the world’s last remaining White Star vessel, SS Nomadic.

Aras an Uachtarain, Dublin

Aras an Uachtarain

Áras an Uachtaráin is the official and private residence of the President of Ireland and is open to the public for hour-long tours every Saturday morning.

Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre and can not be booked in advance. The Phoenix Park Visitor Centre is a separate heritage site, located outside of the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin, which has a children’s playground and café.

GPO, Dublin

The GPO Museum is a permanent visitor attraction located within the historic GPO (General Post Office) building on O’Connell Street, Dublin. This immersive, interactive and engaging experience tells the story of the 1916 Easter Rising and Modern Irish History.

History will come to life as you experience events from both sides of the conflict and through the eyes of bystanders caught in the crossfire through electronic touch screens, video, audio visual booths, sound and authentic artefacts – many previously unseen.

Croke Park GAA Museum, Dublin

Explore the GAA Museum at Croke Park with its exhibition galleries that vividly illustrate the story of Gaelic games, from ancient times to present day. Exhibitions include the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups, the official GAA Hall of Fame, and lots more.

Test your hurling and football skills in the interactive games zone – a must for museum visitors of all ages!

The GAA Museum is also the gateway for the Croke Park Stadium Tour and the Skyline Tours, along with the calendar of special tours and events that take place throughout the year. 

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Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin

Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 as the new County Gaol for Dublin. It closed its doors in 1924.

Today the building symbolises the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848,1867 and 1916 were detained and in some cases executed here. Many members of the Irish Republican movement during the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were also detained in Kilmainham Gaol, including Robert Emmet, Anne Devlin, Charles Stewart Parnell and the leaders of 1916 who will always be associated with the building.

Hill of Tara, Meath

Hill of Tara for places to learn about Irish history

Image © Government of Ireland National Monuments Service Photographic Unit

Hill of Tara is a site that has been in use for more than 5,000 years as a place of burial and assembly. It grew to fame as the legendary inauguration site of the ancient High Kings of Ireland.

From its rolling slopes one can see all the way to the other great sites of the Boyne Valley, including Loughcrew Cairns, the Hill of Slane, Trim Castle and beyond.

National Maritime Museum of Ireland, Dublin

maritime museum

The National Maritime Museum of Ireland is a must-see for any budding sailor. Housing an extensive collection of maritime heritage, from massive anchors to tiny models put together by the lighthouse keepers in the many lonely hours spent on duty off the coast of Ireland.

The Lurgan Canoe, an early Bronze Age boat from Galway, is also on display, as well as the Baily Optic, a light installed in the Baily lighthouse in Howth, North County Dublin in 1902 and removed in 1972.

Wicklow Historic Gaol

Mykidstime Wicklow gaol

The kids will absolutely adore the interactive experience on offer at this jail museum. You will be transported back in time upon entering the building, and come face to face with some of the dramatic characters, learn their story of how and when they once walked the floors of the notorious building.

Rock of Cashel, Tipperary

Rock of Cashel Tipperary

Some people believe that The Rock of Cashel, is just a rock – a common misconception. It’s actually a stunning medieval fortress dating back to the 4th century.

It was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for hundreds of years until the Norman invasion. The structure includes four edifices, including the round tower, cathedral, Connac’s Chapel and the Hall of the Vicars Choral.

Ulster American Folk Park, Tyrone

Ulster American Folk Park - ICP (1)

Image: Tourism Northern Ireland

When you visit the Ulster American Folk Park, embark on a journey back in time from the Old World of Ulster to the New World on the American frontier.

Wander the well-trodden pathways of rural Ulster, complete with a bustling street and welcoming farmhouses. Board a full-scale emigrant ship and experience the cramped quarters where hundreds of people lived during their twelve-week Atlantic crossing. Emerge in the New World and marvel at the ingenious solutions these resourceful newcomers created on the frontier.

Experience demonstrations of traditional crafts daily, from forge work to wool spinning, turf cutting to willow weaving, woodcraft to patchwork quilting. Take a stroll through the herb garden to learn about herbal remedies from years gone by.

Ceide Fields, Mayo

Mykidstime history places in Ireland Ceide fields

A Neolithic landscape dating back to 5000 B.C which are the oldest known field systems in the world. Take a step back in time and explore the “fields of the flat-topped hill”.

It’s a unique experience about 7 kilometres northwest of Ballycastle with a vast prehistoric landscape, dramatic cliffs and coastline.

Round Tower Clondalkin, Dublin

Round Tower Clondalkin

The Round Tower Clondalkin is one of only four remaining round towers in County Dublin. The Visitor Centre museum brings the story of The Round Tower Clondalkin and the surrounding area to life through an exciting interactive experience. The fun and educational exhibition can be enjoyed through eight distinctive themed spaces in the refurbished 19th century Mill Cottages.

Suitable for all ages, the Round Tower Clondalkin experience incorporates public gardens, and an exhibition and gallery space.

The Little Museum of Dublin

The Little Museum of Dublin, conveniently located on St. Stephen’s Green, is truly a little gem, telling the story of the capital over the last 100 years from the visit of Queen Victoria to modern day.

Over 5,000 items are displayed over 3 floors. Entry to the museum is by guided tour only, so book online to be sure of entry. There are worksheets available for children of all ages, and interactive artefacts that they will enjoy.

Unique Places to Learn About Irish History and Culture with Kids – Mykidstime

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Published On: September 9th, 2021 / Categories: Ireland / Last Updated: September 10th, 2021 / Tags: , /

About the Author: Emily Manning

Emily is the coffee-loving Editor of MyKidsTime. Mum of one daughter and two naughty Tibetan Terriers, she is particularly partial to Curly Wurlys and unable to resist pretty stationery and new cookbooks. As an avid foodie and domestic goddess-wannabe, she is most likely to be found in the kitchen.

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