Built in 1700 as the main barracks for the British garrison in Dublin, the Collins Barracks complex was taken over by the Irish Free State in 1922. In the 1990′s, it was renamed Collins Barracks after Michael Collins, the legendary fighter for Irish independence.
The complex, now a museum, consists of thirteen galleries situated around a central courtyard, which once served as a parade ground. The 100 pace markings are still visible on the courtyard walls. The barracks themselves are the oldest military barracks in all of Europe, and were restored in the early 18th century by Colonel Thomas Burgh, chief engineer and surveyor during the time of Queen Anne.
First open as a museum in 1997, the exhibits located here display the unique Irish style in decoration of items from silver to jewelry to clothing and furniture.
The silver exhibit showcases pieces from the 17th to 20th century. Its coinage section displays pieces of currency originating from Viking days, through the centuries, up to the popular
ATMs we use today. Other unique silver items include the Fonthill Vase, William Smith O’Brien Gold Cup, and Lord Chancellori’s mace.
An exhibition called “The Way We Wore” encompasses the evolution of 250 years of clothing styles and chronicles the progress made in producing various popular fabrics and other materials.
Articles with particularly interesting backgrounds or histories are grouped into a section known as the Curator’s Choice. At various times, this section has displayed such diverse items as a wedding gift from Cromwell to his daughter, King William’s gauntlets from the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and a hurling ball love token.
In recent years, an increasing number of popular exhibits have been moved to this location from other museums. There is a café and gift shop available onsite.
You can take Dublin’s tram system, known as the LUAS, directly to Collin’s Barracks. A ten minute ride from O’Connel St. on the Red Line, get off at the stop called Museum.