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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

sonairte ecology centre

You might think that this is just some woodstock sort of hippies juncture where waifes hug trees and stare at the sun…. I say wake up and smell the fairtrade recycled gound beans coffee… 😆

they say:

Sonairte continues to provide a beautiful sanctuary to walk, sit or meditate. In March the bare trees along the nature walk show up the beauty and shape of the Nanny estuary. In the garden the daffodils are brightening up the winter shades. More volunteers are starting to come out of hibernation to join in the spring propagation and planting season

I hadn’t been out to sonairte so recently. No particluar reason… I think I just got caught up with life and the ‘stuff’ that goes with… anyhow.

What had happened since I was last out there at the hedge layers association day is I became good friends with one of the volunteers, Natasha, who like many people I know in my life – is doing what she does because she is passionate about it ie. money does not equal motivation. I like this.

I’m not saying give anyone any money. No sir! But where soooo many have jumped on the green eco freak bandwagon… for financial gain, Sonairte survives in my opinion because the journey is continuously borne from like minded people who care.

Natasha tells me that Meath County Council have been great to them – but pretty much they rely upon people visiting [or donating to survive]. Am I asking you to write a big fat cheque… no!! In fact she and the other volunteers are working for free at this moment in time. What I am suggesting is that you pop out… take a look and tell me if I am wrong. All you gotta do is buy a coffe or a plant like you would any where else….? More than fair I say… and you’ll feel all super dooper as well 😆

It is the ultimate place for those who love life, enjoy holding hands, home made everything, the unusual, the creative and most importantly the inspirational.

They run courses there which are really cool [view them here]. I particularly like the one coming up on chickens… something I should have done before I got them, but it’s never too late. I think I might try this one…

KEEPING CHICKENS IN YOUR BACK GARDEN

Time:10am – 4pm

With Fiona Crowe – a producer of Organic Eggs with12 years experience of keeping laying hens and other fancy poultry. Aimed at people who want to keep 3 to 10 chickens for eggs for their own table. Morning in classroom, afternoon, handling and practical experience of hens.

Cost: €75 (Lunch included)

Date: Saturday, April 18th

Whatever you do… do gown down. Have a coffee, do or don’t get durty… enjoy what has to be one of the cheapest and happiest places you may ever visit. And if you do feel like dressing up in your bell bottom pants complete with tee pee in arm… just remember to wear some flowers in your hair…. .

plan[t] a herb garden

herb garden layout...

herb garden layout...

a herb is defined as both an aromatic plant that is used for flavouring in cookery & medicine and a seed-bearing plant whose parts above the ground die back a the end of the growing season.

What I have here is parsley [petroselinum crispum], mint [curley], oregano [origanum vulgaris], sorrel [broadleaf], thyme [thymus faustinii], lavender [lavandula munstead], rosemary [rosmarinus officinalis], chives, garlic [allium sativum], blackcurrant [var ‘ben nevis’], redcurrent [var ‘jonkheer van tets], gooseberry [var ‘whitesmith’] and olives [olea europea]; looking quite good against a a hedge of bay leaves [laurus nobilis].

A wise investment for a carbon conscious chap like myself.Thanks Mother Nature for delightful frightful Irish weather I don’t even have to use my harvested rainwater! have a great weekend – and as always enjoy!

slán ags beannacht – peter