NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND
In Dublin, you might be tempted to do so many Dubliners – and tourists – and go on a massive pub crawl (there are around 700 tavernas to choose from). But if you’d rather gaze at great art than pints of Guinness, there’s a range of enticing – and largely free – options led by the National Gallery, where works by world icons like Van Gogh, Caravaggio and Picasso hang. you to the gems of Emerald Isle legends such as Jack Butler Yeats (brother of poet WB Yeats). Head to room 14 to see Jack’s expressionist painting, ‘The Liffey Swim’, which depicts spectators watching swimmers run down Dublin’s famous river. This earned him a silver medal at the Paris Olympics in 1924 (at the time, medals were awarded for artistic and sporting events).
To see nationalgallery.ie
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND – ARCHEOLOGY
Some of Ireland’s most esteemed and beautiful Celtic objects – the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice – grace the treasury of this striking museum. Dating to the 700s AD, the intricate brooch was discovered on a beach in County Meath, north Dublin, in 1850, while the chalice – also from the 8th century, adorned with gold, silver, copper , of bronze, brass and lead – was found by two boys digging in a potato field in County Limerick in 1868. The museum also has important Bronze and Iron Age finds – including including bodies preserved in bogs – as well as relics of Dublin’s Viking lords.
To see museum.ie
CHESTER BEATTY LIBRARY
Established by a globe-trotting American mining magnate and philanthropist turned Dubliner by adoption, this attraction on the grounds of Dublin Castle houses the extraordinary, highly decorative collection that Arthur Chester Beatty obtained from all over Europe, Far East and the Islamic World. Everything from rare Chinese jade books to illuminated Qurans, Japanese scrolls and Parisian fashion plates are to be perused. Head to the soothing roof garden for views over Dublin.
To see chesterbeatty.fr
IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
Half an hour’s walk – or ten minutes by taxi – from the hustle and bustle of central Dublin, you’ll pass the giant Guinness brewery and on to IMMA, which occupies a former 17th-century royal hospital and a former retirement home for soldiers. It has a permanent collection of 3,500 works by Irish and international artists – including portraits and sculptures by Lucian Freud, Joan Miro and Kathy Prendergast. Browse listings of lectures and screenings, enjoy a caffeine fix at the pop-up cafe in the museum’s courtyard, and stroll through the site’s pretty gardens and meadows.
To see imma.ie
THE HUGH LANE GALLERY
Francis Bacon Studio photograph by Perry Ogden (1998). Photo: Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin/The Estate of Francis Bacon
Impressionist masterpieces, a chaotic reconstructed studio of the late Irish painter Francis Bacon and the abstract act of another (living) Dublin-born talent, Sean Scully, are the calling cards of this gallery, named after after the so-called “father of modern Irish art”. Born in County Cork, Hugh Lane grew up in England, became an art dealer and collector in London, before opening Dublin’s first gallery dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Lane died aged 39 aboard the RMS Lusitania when it was sunk by a German U-boat off Cork in 1915, but his legacy lives on in a gallery renowned for its cutting-edge temporary exhibitions. Until July 10, for example, unpublished works by Irish artist Patrick Graham.
To see hughlane.fr
THE DOOR GALLERY
This hidden gem, located in a Georgian townhouse near Trinity College, is another contemporary art hotspot, with established and emerging talent on display. It’s a great place to grab art, whether in person or online (a new Art Visualiser app lets you view rooms at home, with exact measurements appearing on your wall). You might like Padraig McCaul’s moving etchings of Irish land and seascapes, Eithne Roberts’ soothing oil paintings or Chris McMorrow’s portrayals of classic Dublin pubs and streets.
To see thedoorwaygallery.com
Steve McKenna was the guest of Tourism Ireland (ireland.com)