The National Gallery of Ireland contains some of the most breathtaking art in the world, including Caravaggio’s “The Taking of Christ,” Vermeer’s “Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid,” and Reynold’s “First Earl of Bellamont”. It is the largest art gallery Ireland has, as well as one of the finest smaller European art museums. Unlike the often sprawling European museums, the National Gallery of Ireland can be easily explored in its entirety within a single afternoon. Besides free general admission to the permanent collection of the art gallery Ireland visitors will be happy to know that free tours are offered on Saturday and Sunday. Some special exhibits do have an admission fee.
The gallery was built in 1864 by Francis Fowke, who also constructed the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. An Act of Parliament provided for the establishment of the museum. Beginning with the National Gallery Ireland launched a series of civic building projects in Dublin. In addition to the art gallery Ireland built school buildings, art centers, and parks. The National Gallery is one of the best art galleries Ireland has to offer, dedicating a significant amount of space to Irish paintings and artwork. The exhibitions include works by Roderic O’Conor, Sir William Orpen, William Leech, George Barret, William Scott, Sir John Lavery, and Jack B. Yeats. Yeats is arguably the best-known Irish painter of the 20th century, famous for his abstract expressionist style. His paintings are typically portraits and landscapes.
At the National Gallery Ireland tourists can also view the works of many European artists, including Rembrandt’s “Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” Poussin’s “The Holy Family” and the “Lamentation over the Dead Christ,” Goya’s “Portrait of Dona Antonia Zarate,” and a number of works by Monet, Sisley, and Pissarro. There is also a British collection and an Irish National Portrait collection, both displayed in the northern wing of the gallery. Architecture enthusiasts can check out the Millennium Wing, which boasts examples of postmodern architecture in Dublin.
Hours of art and exploring can work up an appetite. Luckily the National Gallery has its own self-service restaurant, Fitzers at the Wintergarden Restaurant and Café The restaurant offers inexpensive, but delicious lunch options. At the gift shop of the National Gallery Ireland tourists can pick up books on Irish artists, as well as a variety of prints, souvenirs, and other merchandise. Gift shop offerings can also be ordered online.
The National Gallery of Ireland is located in Merrion Square West. It is open daily, although it is sometimes closed for holidays, namely Good Friday and December 24-26. Guided tours should be arranged at least three weeks prior to the desired date. Audio guides are free, as are the frequent public lectures. The National Chamber Choir often holds concerts in the gallery, especially during summer months. The visitor’s entrance is located at Merrion Square West and Clare Street. There are two disabled parking bays, and all galleries levels are accessible by elevator. Wheelchairs are available upon request.