The Collins Barracks building itself is of huge historical significance, but it now contains a fabulous decorative arts museum featuring cultural treasures from throughout Ireland’s history.
Known locally as the Collins Barracks, this architectural marvel began life in 1704, built to a design by Thomas Burgh, the genius behind Dublin icons like St Michan’s Church and Trinity College’s Old Library. For decades, it was the British Army’s headquarters in the city, and as such gained a formidable reputation as a base for six entire regiments. In 1922, though, British forces finally withdrew from Ireland, in the new, independent republic that was declared as a result, the stately barracks were renamed after Michael Collins, the leading Irish republican who’d been killed just weeks previously in the dying days of the Irish Civil War.
Nowadays, the building has been repurposed as a museum, specialising in the decorative arts and history. It doesn’t sound the most stimulating subject, but it’s bursting with phenomenal Irish craftsmanship in everything from metalwork - silver especially – to embroidery. It’s worth going to just see the poignant memorial to 1916’s Easter Rising, a revolution by Irish republicans that was brutally suppressed by the British Army.