In a previous post I’d outlined the advantages of buying a Dublin Pass to save a few dollars while gaining some convenience on many of the most popular attractions in and around Dublin but there are a number of notable museums and attractions that are available to visitors without charge and on a permanent basis.

Many leading museums offer free entrance typically once day or evening per month and while a bonus always worth exploring the savings may mean coping with a surge in visitors and an overall busier museum which may not be to everyone’s liking. In Dublin however there are a host of leading institutions that make their permanent collections available without charge on a permanent basis including:

The National Library Of Ireland houses over 8 million items including books, periodicals, photographs, maps, manuscripts  and genealogical records for those curious to explore their Irish heritage.

Photo by author

Photo by author

Sadly while you may visit the library’s Main Reading Room with it’s 50 foot high ceiling visitors are typically kept in a designated viewing area only.

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National Library of Ireland by Nico Kaiser is licensed under CC BY 2.0.  

Having visited the New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room and being suitably impressed with it’s grand scale I look forward to visiting this space and finding a quiet corner to curl up in and read part of a good book.

The National Gallery Of Ireland is celebrating it’s 150th anniversary in 2014 and not only allows free entrance but offers free guided public tours, lectures & workshops, audio guides and even drawing kits should you feel inclined to copy some of the masterpieces in the permanent collection from Monet, Picasso, Goya and Vermeer.

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National Gallery Library of Ireland by dahon is licensed under CC BY 2.0.  


The National Museum Of Ireland has three of its four branches in Dublin – Archaeology, Natural History and Decorative Arts & History  – with the first two located around the corner from the National Gallery at one end of Merrion Square Park with the third, Decorative Arts & History, located a short distance away near the Old Jameson Distillery  in Collins Barracks site, a military barracks named after the revered Irish revolutionary Michael Collins.

The  Archaeology section has prehistoric gold artifacts as well as more recent Celtic and medieval art set in a Victorian building opened in 1890 that’s as aesthetically interesting from the outside as the inside.

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National Gallery Library of Ireland by Carlos Pacheco is licensed under CC BY 2.0.  


The adjacent Natural History museum has animals from Ireland and abroad as well as over 2 million scientific specimens while the Decorative Arts & History is home to military displays – a natural given the history of the facility- Folk art examples of Folk life and a wide range of objects like ceramics, silver and glassware.

Irish Museum of Modern Art  is in an equally as notable building having reopened in October 2013 in it’s home which is the former Royal Kilmainham Hospital, a facility built in 1684 to house retired soldiers modelled after Les Invalides in Paris.

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The modern art housed inside is to my taste less interesting than the building itself as one exhibit consisted of a room with gravel on the floor. And no, the artist wasn’t a Rolling Stone.

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Around the hospital are a French style formal gardens that provide a restful detour in a day of sightseeing.

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The National Botanic Gardens are a few kilometres north of the River Liffey and while entrance is free note that parking and guided tours both come with a nominal fee of EUR 2.00 for each. Along with the outdoor plants and fauna admission includes the indoor Great Palm House, Alpine House and Cactus House.

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The Chester Beatty Library  is found within Dublin Castle and is named for Sir Alfred Chester Beatty,  a mining magnate who while born in the United States became a naturalized Irish citizen, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and left his   world-class collection of Oriental art and religious books to the Irish state upon his death in 1968. The museum’s location within Dublin Castle makes it easy to match up with a visit to the castle grounds and attractions as well as the nearby Christ Church Cathedral. There is a handy online tour of the castle’s State Apartments here.

Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane houses one of Ireland’s foremost collections of modern and contemporary art and is named after the Gallery’s founder Sir Hugh Lane who donated the original collection in 1908. Along with impressionist master’s Manet, Monet and Degas gallery also features the entire contents of 20 century Irish artist Francis Bacon’s studio.

Farmleigh House is a small Georgian house built in the late 18th century and was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness, a great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, founder of the eponymous brewery that bears his name. The house is near Phoenix Park which is one of Europe’s largest walled city parks at over 1750 acres and also is home to the Dublin Zoo. While the zoo isn’t free both the Farmleigh House and Phoenix Park Visitor Centre are open without charge so combining several nearby sights into a day’s schedule makes it possible to make the most of your sightseeing time.

Other museums and attractions with free entrance in and around Dublin include the Gallery of Photography and the Pearse Museum south of the city center which is named after Irish patriot and educator Patrick Pearse.

The only difficult decision may be in trying to find time during a Dublin visit to explore as many of the free museums and attractions as possible.

This list was complied with the help of the wonderfully user-friendly Dublin city visitor website. Please find a custom map below showing all the listed museums and attractions.

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