on August 1, 2011
Dublinia is open from 09:30 to 5:00 during the summer. Entrance cost is 9 Euros for adults, 6.50 Euros for concessions and 5 Euros for children. You can buy a discounted ticket for Dublinia and Christ Church Cathedral. They are connected to each other by a medieval footbridge - if you come here, you must see the cathedral. There is a car park in Jurys Hotel with the entrance on Werburgh Street. If you keep your Dublinia ticket they give you a discount on parking.Dublinia is in the heart of Dublin's old city, in a really beautiful old Victorian Gothic building. It aims to offer a "hands-on history experience" to children. It focusses on Dublin's Viking and medieval history. There are some interactive exhibits as well as background sounds and smells. There are 3 levels - the ground floor deals with the Vikings. It explores the effect the Vikings had on Ireland. Dublin became north-western Europe's most important slave market. You can see what life was like on a Viking longboat, what they brought in their chests, experience the sounds of a Viking street and the highlight for us was to go into a Viking house and see what that was like. Children can also be chained up as a slave or write their names in runes. They have an interesting section on Viking burial customs.The second floor moves on to the Medieval era. It follows the history of Dublin from 1170 to 1530. You start with the capture of the city by Strongbow and his knights in 1170. The museum goes right up to Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century.You can step into a medieval lair in this section and try on clothes and armour, including chain mail from these times. There are town stocks - we took photos in these, as well as a market area with a pie stall, a medicine tent, a spice stall where you play guess the spice by sniffing them and a scribes stall where you can do a rubbing.They have a gruesome area with scenes from the plague in 1348. More uplifting is the merchant's house which you can explore. There is an interesting reconstruction of a Dublin woman from 900 years ago - her face has been forensically reconstructed from an excavated skeleton.The top floor deals with the excavation work and lets children get an insight into the role of the archaeologist. They can try on hard hats and see what equipment is used. There is also a little cafe on this area and a gift shop.We spent about 2 hours in Dublinia. I enjoyed it and found it interesting. Our 7 year old was only just about old enough to appreciate the experience. It proclaims itself very hands-on - there is plenty to see and touch, but there is also a lot of reading to do, and some children may find it a bit heavy going. Avoid the cafe - service is exceptionally slow and the tables took a long time to be cleared. The museum was also packed full of people when we visited, this also did it no favours. That said, it was the middle of the summer holidays, but perhaps they should stagger entrance times somewhat, to avoid large numbers of visitors entering at the same time. It is though, an interesting and informative place to visit.
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