The Irish Times guide to Ireland’s reopening museums, galleries and heritage sites

From the National Gallery to the Book of Kells, and Croke Park to the leprechaun museum

National Gallery of Ireland: sisters Caoimhe,  Farrah and Alannah Culhane, who are 10, six and eight, at the Dublin cultural institution, which reopens on Monday, May 10th. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

National Gallery of Ireland: sisters Caoimhe, Farrah and Alannah Culhane, who are 10, six and eight, at the Dublin cultural institution, which reopens on Monday, May 10th. Photograph: Naoise Culhane


As the petals of real life very slowly begin to unfurl, this week sees the first steps in the gradual reopening of Ireland’s cultural sector, after four months closed.

Most galleries, museums, heritage sites, other cultural attractions and libraries (for lending only) can open their doors again from today. Fortunately, you can also travel outside your county to visit them. Up to 15 people can also now gather for live performance outdoors.(Other live performances, and cinemas, can’t restart until June.)

Venues are looking forward to it. “It has been a long time since the public have inhabited the gallery spaces, and we miss the connection and engagement with our audiences,” says Mary McCarthy, director of Crawford Art Gallery, in Cork. She encourages people to come in. “Even if you have not been before, do drop in.”

Wherever you’re visiting, you need to wear a face covering, and many venues require advance booking, to control numbers, even if they’re free.

The museums and galleries that cannot open yet are those accessed only via guided tour, such as the 14 Henrietta Street tenement museum, in Dublin, which has just won the Silletto Prize at the European Museum of the Year awards, and Kilmainham Gaol, on the other side of the Liffey. They were still waiting for guidance at the end of last week on when they can reopen. The Department of Culture says “our understanding is that for now no tours will be permitted, but we await the regulations to confirm this.”


Check online and locally for booking details and opening hours before travelling

Merrion Square, Dublin 2, free, book online,
Reopens on Monday, May 10th. On May 11th its exhibition New Perspectives (from €5) opens, showcasing works acquired by the gallery over the past decade, including Cityscape by Alice Neel, City Rectangle by Ilya Bolotowsky, Her First Communion by John Lavery and Crayfish by Anne Yeats. The gallery shop reopens on May 17th.

Butler Gallery at Evans Home, Kilkenny
Butler Gallery, in Kilkenny

Evans Home, John’s Quay, Kilkenny, free, book online,
Reopens on Tuesday, May 11th. Visitors can view the gallery collection and the Tony O’Malley collection, as the Butler prepares to premiere two installations on June 11th by the Kilkenny-born artist Richard Mosse. The cafe, with outdoor terrace tables, is open.

Ely Place, Dublin 2, free, book online,
Reopens on Monday, May 10th, with a group of exhibitions running till June 27th, including Sean Scully: Eleuthra (for the first time in Ireland); Damien Flood: Tilt; Fiona Hackett: The Long Disease LA Stories; and Robert Ballagh: Home.

Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin 8, free, book online,
Reopens on Tuesday, May 11th, including Imma Collection: Freud Project (latest project the Artist’s Mother); Northern Light: The David Kronn Photography Collection; and the DCU Mellie Programme’s Visual Voices. On May 26th Ghosts from the Recent Past, from the collection, reopens. The Portuguese artist Paula Rego’s Obedience and Defiance runs until May 25th (tickets €8). Imma Outdoors, a new public space using the gallery’s extensive grounds for artist commissions, events, collaborations, socially-distanced spaces and cafes, is part of its 30th-birthday celebration.

Doug Fishbone exhibition at Crawford Gallery Cork
Crawford Art Gallery, in Cork

Emmet Place, Cork, free, booking not required,
Reopens on Monday, May 10th, with two new exhibitions: Dara McGrath’s For Those That Tell No Tales, 60 photographic works on the War of Independence, along with outdoor sites in the city; and the Zurich Portrait (and Young Portrait) Prizes exhibition, which managed only a brief run at the National Gallery before lockdown. Doug Fishbone’s first solo exhibition in Ireland opens on May 21st.

Various locations, free, booking required only for Archaeology branch, shops reopen May 17th,
Three of the National Museum of Ireland’s Dublin branches reopen at 1pm on Monday, May 10th. (The Natural History museum, on Merrion Square, remains closed for refurbishment). Exhibits at the Archaeology branch (Kildare Street, Dublin 2) include the Treasury and Or: Ireland’s Gold permanent exhibitions, plus others on Clontarf 1014 and Glendalough. The museum of Decorative Arts & History (Collins Barracks, Dublin 7) has permanent exhibitions on the designer Eileen Gray and Irish Wars 1919-23, plus In Form crafts and an Ib Jorgensen fashion retrospective. At Country Life (Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co Mayo) exhibitions include Cycling the Country; Crown Beoir, focusing on Traveller/Mincéiri women and girls’ hair; Polish folk art; and A Forgotten Polish Hero of the Irish Famine.

Various locations around Ireland,
Almost all National Historic Property sites with parks, gardens or walkways – such as St Stephen’s Green and St Enda’s Park in Dublin, Doneraile Park in Cork, Castletown Demesne in Co Kildare, and Emo Court Parklands in Co Laois – were open through lockdown, with the Office of Public Works progressively opening outdoors at National Monuments sites where it could safely do so.

Garinish Island has a phased reopening in May, with self-guided tours of Bryce House from May 20th. Among sites reopening indoors from Monday, May 10th, for self-guiding visitors, are Dublin Castle’s State Apartments and its Coach House Gallery (with an exhibition, 100 Lithographs: Dante’s Divine Comedy, by Liam Ó Broin), Kilkenny Castle and the Site Brú na Bóinne Unesco World Heritage site, including Newgrange (exterior only, no access to interior chamber) and Knowth.

Reopening OPW sites are updated regularly at and on this Government website.

Listen Now Again Seamus Heaney exhibition NLI
Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again, in Dublin

Bank of Ireland College Green Cultural and Heritage Centre, Dublin 2, free, ticketed,
This National Library of Ireland exhibition reopens on Monday, May 10th. Living with Pride, the NLI’s year-long exploration of Irish LGBTI+ identity and experience, opens in June. The library itself, on Kildare Street, awaits confirmation of when its reading rooms can reopen.

St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, from €8,
Reopens on Monday, May 10th, along with new daily walking tours of St Stephen’s Green and a Big Little Treasure Hunt (as well as Green Mile and Writers of Dublin walking tours).

Dublin Castle, Dublin 2, free,
Reopens on Monday, May 10th, with its exceptional collection of art and manuscripts, from Egyptian books of the dead to contemporary Chinese woodblock prints, capturing the richness of human creative expression since 2700 BC

Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, from €16,
Reopens on Monday, May 10th. This exhibition features the illustrated manuscript from AD 800, as well as the Long Room, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.

EPIC Emigration Museum, Achieving Infamy gallery
Epic: The Irish Emigration Museum, in Dublin

CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin 1, €16.50, book online,
Reopens on Monday, May 10th, marking its fifth birthday. Interactive experience with stories of love, triumph, adventure and adversity, celebrating the impact and influence of Irish emigrants around the world. Out in the World, about Ireland’s LGBTQ+ diaspora activists, opens in June, and two new galleries in July.

Croke Park, Dublin 3, from €21,
Reopens on Monday, May 10th (with stadium tours on hold pending Government clarification). Celebrating the national games, hurling and Gaelic football and the amateur sporting association intertwined with our identity, history and culture.


Other venues reopening on Tuesday, May 11th, include

Venues reopening on Friday, May 14th, include

Among many galleries and museums preparing to reopen later in May are

Dublin Zoo, the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland and other outdoor attractions are already open