National Leprechaun Museum – Dublin
Twilfit House, Jervis Street, Dublin 1, Ireland *leprechaunmuseum.ie
My very first time in Ireland and only a few hours in Dublin, I get off the bus, wander off O’Connell and lo’ and behold there is the National Leprechaun Museum. I was of course in awe since I’m a faerie fanatic and consumed with folklore about the little people. I’m aware that this museum has caused quite a stir in Ireland, especially since a good portion of the Irish population doesn’t like being tied with the imagery of this mythological creature. Legend be legend, and history be such of that – Leprechauns have chosen to root themselves in Ireland – and in my opinion, the Irish need to welcome the stingy little bugger with open arms – because as trouble-making as this fae can be, they have a fun history and iconography. Of course this is from the mouth of an American, and it was the Irish immigrants to America that really stirred this creature to life in the folk tales brought over to the American shore. Then you have lots of comical approaches to embrace the bugger in a humorous light especially with being branded on the General Mills cereal “Lucky Charms”. The Museum is not that old, as it was established just this year on March 10, 2010. The National Leprechaun Museum is dedicated to the history and lore about “Leprechauns”. It is located in a large building between Jervis Street and Middle Abbey Street in Dublin, Ireland. It is most likely the very first leprechaun museum in the world and was referred to by the Irish Times as “The Louvre of Leprechauns”. Directed by Tom O’Rahilly, the concept was started in 2003, as a “story telling” oral-tradition tourist attraction designed for the “leprechaun experience” rather than “a commercial venture”. The only real ‘museum’ part of the ‘museum’ is in the foyer, where you are given a brief synopsis of the history of leprechauns, its iconography, definition, and references in popular culture. The rest of the museum is an interactive guided tour involving several different mythological room with voiceovers exploring the myths and legends in the eyes of a leprechaun. After the introduction, you enter in through a secret door and go through a tunnel full of optical illusions shrinking you to the size of a leprechaun, then go through a wooden replica of the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland and into a room where items such as furniture become unusually large to give you the effect you’ve shrunk in size. Onward into a room sheltered with umbrellas from falling rain onward through into a room with a rainbow that leads into a room with a crock of gold and a tree stump. You are enlightened and warned with the tale of one’s man attempt to catch a leprechaun. More rooms exist that talk about the Children of Lir, Fairy Forts, and Newgrange; also one with a well and gigantic tree trunks. Like any museum of its kind, it empties out into a giftshop. Now unfortunately I was called out of the museum in a rush to attend to and was only able to catch the introduction and foyer – which was well done. I’ll finish this review when I go back for the interactive part later this month.
6/23/10: I returned to finish my tour of the Museum. The interactive remaining part of the museum, as you walk through the hidden door from the only part of the place that is a Museum – the rest is meant to be an amusement area centered for kids. However, its severely lacking in entertainment value. You walk down a lighted tunnel to shrink to the size of a Leprechaun, hang out in what is meant to be a living room where you are diminished in size, go through the Giant’s causeway, through an umbrella field which I really didn’t get, on to the Pot of Gold chamber, the wishing well, rainbow chambers, and trails. There is interesting folklore – that was the value to the visit for me and anyone who adores Faerie history and lore – but for the uninterested tourist, the museum would be a waste of your Euros. The staff is however very knowledgable about the lore and Faerie fanatics would benefit from paying the 10 Euro fee just to pick the brains of the staff. The interactive map of the Otherworldly history of Ireland is fabulous and the only real attractive piece I found in the museum.