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Natural History Museum, Dublin

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I visited The Natural History Museum Friday, 8th October 2010. When I turned to their website yesterday I found these opening lines….

This building is now open again following a major restoration project.

Our exhibitions have changed very little in over a century…..

The second line pretty much summises the musty building interior and the scent and feel about the place.  It’s a nice building but there’s a linger of something more Friedrich Miescher as versus Watson and Crick. Maybe it’s the old glass with what I can only assume is formaldehyde preserving collections. Maybe its the leather that covers those insects at the end of the ground floor to protect them from the light. But then, the oft referred to Dead Zoo, has been collecting deadies since 1792 and has been in the same spot since 1857.

That said it what it is and for some reason I liked it. A lot. It continues….

….The ground floor is dedicated to Irish animals, featuring giant deer skeletons and a variety of mammals, birds and fish. The upper floors of the building were laid out in the 19th Century in a scientific arrangement showing animals by taxonomic group. This scheme demonstrated the diversity of animal life in an evolutionary sequence.

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The first floor is the main reason I went there. I wanted to see the collections of Irish slugs and more… but that sort of thing, in detail. I wanted to see Irish birds, the garden pests, the helpers the bugs, the spiders and the prey. Up close and motionless. And I did. I put in my ear phones and spent maybe two hours there. Entry is free and the art gallery nearby does decent coffee, a necessary for me to ingest regularly.

But there’s a problem. The guys were supposed to get a bag of cash from the boys next door. They didn’t. And for that I’m personally glad. There was talk of a new wing, a coffee shop etc. Lets put this in context,  my Beatles For Sale vinyl, in mono, has a big scratch on it – but I know when and where I need to lift the needle. More importantly I know why the scratch is there…. my own fault for breaking up with her while she was changing to side B. My point, we have history.

I shall continue on – the second floor one can’t get to the upper galleys which would be nice. Some health and safety crapology doctorite decided on that one – and so they remain closed off. A shame, yes, but I’ll settle for it.

For me, I liked loved The Natural History Museum. I can see why a younger mind may be bored senseless. I know the upper of upstairs is closed off. I find it rhetoric that it’s next to Leinster House where the people who run our country make decisions [?] But I personally hope it never gets the funding it was told it would get.

It’s a great place to go, in a beautiful part of Dublin City. Argue all you like regarding upgrades and changes – but similar to, I wish Irelands roads were toll free.

If you do intend go there, watch out for exhibition and event dates if you want some peace and quiet like I did. Also the staff there are amazing, brimmed with information and were more than willing to answer all of the questions I had and point out of pieces of interest they thought I might like.

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In the front lawn is a gentleman called Thomas Heazle Park.

Surgeon-General Thomas Heazle Parke (1857—1893) was an Irish doctor, explorer, soldier and naturalist, born in 1857 at Clogher House in Drumsna, County Leitrim, Ireland, and was brought up in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim. He graduated from the College of Surgeons in Dublin and was appointed to a post in Ballybay, County Monaghan.

In 1881 he joined the British Army and served in Egypt as a surgeon. Parke fought to Khartoum in relief of General Gordon in 1885.

He became the first Irishman to cross the African continent. During the expedition Parke bought a pygmy girl. They travelled together for over a year and she nursed him through malaria. In the end he was forced to leave her behind because her eyes could not adapt to sunlight after the darkness of the forest.

When Parke returned home he received an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and was awarded gold medals from the British Medical Association and the Royal Geographical Society. Among his published works are My Personal Experiences in Equatorial Africa (published in 1891) and A Guide to Health in Africa. He died in Scotland in 1893 and his coffin was brought back to Ireland and drawn on a gun carriage from the Dublin docks to Broadstone station. He was buried in Drumsna.

On the granite pedestal is a bronze plaque depicting the incident on August 13, 1887 when Parke sucked the poison from an arrow wound in the chest of Capt. William G. Stairs to save his life. He is also commemorated by a bust in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

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View More Images of The Natural History Museum. One is permitted to take photographs, just not with the use of flash.

Opening Hours:

  • Tueesday – Saturday 10am -5pm
  • Sunday 2pm – 5pm
  • Closed Mondays [including Bank Holidays]

UPDATE: 7th January 2011

Whilst I was at the Museum I filled out the comment form. I can’t remember what I said exactly now to be honest. But I just got this email today.

Peter

Thank you for taking the time to fill out a comment card during your visit. To answer your query about access to upper floors, the National Museum of Ireland has prepared a plan to build a new structure beside the Natural History Museum that will include a lift and provide universal access. This was allocated €15M in funding under the National Development Plan but this funding has since been withdrawn and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport is not able to fund the development at present. The structure would allow us to remove any modern intrusions (e.g. the shop) into a separate space and reinforce the Victorian style, allow access to all floors and provide spaces for education and proper visitor services that are sorely needed.

Balcony access is not possible at present due to the lack of emergency exits from these upper levels. The solution, once funded, would have minimal impact on the historic interior. The Natural History Museum Staff are working on virtual access to areas of the museum and its collections that are not physically accessible to all.

I share your disappointment in the lack of access, unfortunately until funding is made available for this work the upper floors will remain out of reach for many visitors. Funding for the National Museum of Ireland is the responsibility of the Minister at the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport.

Nigel
Mr Nigel T. Monaghan,
Keeper,
Natural History Division,
National Museum of Ireland,
Merrion Street,
Dublin 2,
IRELAND

Beautiful Cow Competition

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Saturday 10th July saw the North Dublin Dairy show 2010 get under way. The highlight is of course, what can only be described as the beautiful cow competition.

I met with 22 year old farmer Michael Connell Jnr to find out more.

Earlier, I had met Jim Scully, secretary of The Dublin Milk Producers. Listening to him and Michael, I realise dairy farming in this country has a serious message and is in serious trouble.

This day however, was one for congratulations, trophies and rosettes, It was also a day for meeting and greeting young and old who ensure that somehow or udder [ 😉 ] milk ends up on our tables.

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Take a look at the just how serious the judging business of prize cows really is. Like Michael said, it can add value. Consider also that one gentleman told me that he had recently paid over €2000 for a 3 week old baby cow. Father Ted you say ? 😉

Cows aside, because of the people I met, it really was an amazing day. One that I was honoured to be invited to. Thank you so much to the Dublin Milk Producers and 3 generations of The Connell Family for being such fine hosts. Also to Jim Scully and Michael Jnr for taking the time to talk to me.

View More Images of The North Dublin Dairy Show 2010

The Chicken Hen House


I had chickens… Long story all covered very recently. I now have four new ones….I have learned a lot recently. A real case of if I knew then what I know now. In brief snippet format here’s what I know

  • These hens are just over 6 months old.
  • All hens start laying at approximately 7 months
  • The run I have is over 6′ tall.
  • Its very sturdy [and built from old timber]
  • The wire mesh runs to the top and is very well attached
  • Foxes wont go in if there are dogs present
  • The shed faces away so I can collect the eggs/ clean out easily
  • The hens will only sit in the hatches if they are laying
  • They will eat anything… within reason!
  • It will take them 2 weeks to settle in
  • They are very friendly
  • I have called them The Supremes
  • Cocks are very loud – I didn’t take one
  • They will be fed on barley and whatever is leftover
  • My green waste bin should be very empty from now on
  • there’s a lot of money to be wasted on bad ‘eco’ books
  • not one book on sale could tell me what it would be like
  • Eggs are expensive
  • Eggs can be bartered for potatoes
  • Don’t cut the grass for the hens before they arrive – they will mow it for you
  • hens like a little bit of height a pole to perch upon

Regarding what I built for the hens… here’s the facts

  • the area of the run is 5m x 2.3m and just over 2 metres tall
  • the shed I got is a 6′ x 4′
  • the hens ‘boxes’/ rooms [?] are the shed width divided by 4-ish and are 40cm off the ground. Do include a lip so the eggs don’t fall out.
  • the wire mesh is just ordinary chicken wire – as its called
  • I used the green ‘tennis court’ type mesh because it was left over and I had ran out of chicken wire
  • the timber is approx 1.5″ x 2.5″ – it was whatever I had lying around
  • the timbers are 2′ below ground level and compacted in. No concrete was used.

anything else I’ve missed out on? what do you think… ?

Oh and have a happy easter 😆