Within the unique setting of a converted mariners church lies the volunteer-run National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire. The wonderfully presented museum hosts an impressive range of maritime history artefacts and exhibits and is really worth a visit for anyone with a love of Ireland’s coast.
The building was originally a Mariners Church built in 1830s and used as a place of worship for officers, sailors and seafarers who came into the busy port of Kingstown. Over time the congregation dwindled and the church shut down. It was handed over to the Maritime Institute of Ireland as a fitting location for a museum, keeping the maritime spirit of the building alive.
In 1978 the National Maritime Museum of Ireland was opened by President Patrick Hillery and it has been growing ever since.
The museum is filled with a huge collection of artefacts, models, paintings and photographs that cover all aspects of Irish maritime heritage. It tells the stories of maritime greats, legendary captains and all the tales of struggle, success and loss that go along with the sea.
There are thousands of objects throughout the museum one of the most eye catching is the Baily Optic, a functioning lighthouse optic from the Baily Lighthouse in Howth. The Optic stands impressively on the former altar, rotating and shining it’s light over the museum. It was donated by Irish Lights and was installed within the Bailey Lighthouse from 1902 -1972. The light is dimmed some what now but originally the light was equivalent to 2,000,000 candles.
Mayo born William Brown left an indelible mark on the country of Argentina and became a hero to the Argentine people. Since the mid 1980’s Admirals in the Argentine Navy have worn replicas of Brown’s sword. One of these beautiful replicas is on display in the museum.
Learn the story of Robert Halpin, the captain who connected the globe, through the museums extensive artefacts and displays. Relive the story of Halpin and his voyage on the Great Eastern to lay telegraph cables from Valentia Island to Newfoundland.
Explore the story of some of Ireland’s most famous ships including the RMS Titanic, RMS Lusitania and the RMS Leinster. Learn how seafarers communicate and navigate the seas and delve into the history of the Irish Naval Service.
The museum staff really know their stuff and we recommend you get a tour guide to really bring the place alive with stories about the artifacts and exhibits. Getting those little nuggets of information from the guide are really priceless.
Dun Laoghaire is a place of rich maritime history and the Maritime Museum is firmly an important part so make sure you check it out next time you’re there.
Check out the Maritime Museum’s webpage: www.mariner.ie