The Year they Cancelled St Patrick’s Day

I wrote this a while ago for History News Network and

The Year They Cancelled St. Patrick’s Day

Gillian O’Brien is a senior lecturer in History at Liverpool John Moores University and the author of “Blood Runs Green: The Murder that Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago” (Chicago, 2015). Follow her on Twitter @gillianmobrien or her personal blog:

Related Link HNN Hot Topic:  St. Patrick’s Day 


Today Saint Patrick’s Day is a broadly inclusive festival associated with fun, frivolity and, in Chicago, turning the river green.  Chicago’s first Saint Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1843 when the city was a mere six years old and the population about 8,000. By 1890, Chicago’s population had swollen to over one million and 17 percent of the city (or almost 180,000 people) were either Irish-born or had one parent born in Ireland.

In this period, Saint Patrick’s Day was an exclusively Irish (or Irish-American) affair, celebrated with a parade, dinners and balls, but for some there was a purpose to it that went beyond mere celebration. In the 1880s, radical Irish Americans flocked to join Clan na Gael —a secret revolutionary society devoted to using force to secure Ireland’s freedom from Britain. Winning Irish independence by force was a costly enterprise and so, while time was spent plotting and planning, writing manifestos, stockpiling dynamite, and penning newspaper columns, fundraising was also a key priority for the Clan. The chief fundraising activities were picnics, balls, and fairs, and Saint Patrick’s Day was just one of the several days promoted by the United Irish Societies of Chicago (UISC), an umbrella group representing many Irish and Irish American organizations, but run by the Clan. In addition to Saint Patrick’s Day, committed Irish republicans also celebrated Robert Emmet’s birthday (March 4); the Feast of the Assumption and the anniversary of Hugh O’Neill’s victory at the Battle of the Yellow Ford in 1598 (August 15); and the anniversary of the execution of the Manchester Martyrs in 1867 (November 23).

During the 1880s, Saint Patrick’s Day was marked with enthusiasm by the Irish and thousands attended functions in halls across the city. The halls were decked out with green ribbon and concerts of Irish traditional music and rebel songs took place. Republican songs such as “The wind that shakes the barley” and “The rising of the moon” were particular favorites. Most popular of all was T. D. Sullivan’s “God Save Ireland,” written in 1867 and inspired by the last words of the Manchester Martyrs as they were led from the dock after being sentenced to death.

It was set to the tune of the American Civil War song “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp!” and by the early 1870s it was regularly referred to as the Irish national anthem.  At the Saint Patrick’s Day celebration in 1888, Clan member and medical doctor Patrick Cronin led the crowd in a rendition of the song so loud “that the rafters shook and the [building] seemed in serious danger of collapsing . . . and the street-car horses on Madison Street shied as they passed a block away.”

For Irish nationalists in Chicago the warmer weather associated with the August 15 celebrations meant that an annual picnic was organized. From 1876 this picnic was held at Ogden’s Grove, near the junction of North and Halsted, far from the working-class centers of south Chicago but within walking distance for many living on the north side of the city. If eating, drinking, dancing, and speeches full of fire and brimstone could defeat Britain then Irish chances of success were high. As “Mr Dooley,” the comic, fictional creation of Finley Peter Dunne, wryly observed: “There’s wan thing about th’ Irish iv this town…they give picnics that does bate all. Be hivins if Ireland cud be freed be a picnic, it ‘d not on’y be free to-day, but an impre [empire].”  Thousands attended the picnics, designed in large part as a social gathering for families. Entertainment was laid on for adults and children. There was Irish dancing, alongside the “usual paraphernalia” of merry-go-rounds, fat men’s races, thin men’s races, three-legged races, girls’ sack races, long jumps and high jumps, the wheel of fortune, putting the shot and throwing the hammer, lung testers, and “try your weights.” Stalls sold food and drink and in the evening, following the inevitable political speechmaking, bands played a range of Irish and American dance tunes and the celebrations often culminated with a firework display.


The following decade, things were rather different. In Chicago, Saint Patrick’s Day 1890 came and went without any parade. No Patrick Cronin sang “God Save Ireland,” no rafters shook, no horses shied. Why were the Irish so silent that year? In a word: murder. In May 1889, Dr. Cronin had been summoned from his surgery on an emergency. A man had been injured at Patrick O’Sullivan’s icehouse in Lake View and Dr. Cronin was called to help. However, the call for aid turned out to be a ruse. Cronin was lured to an isolated cottage where he was brutally murdered and his naked and beaten body stuffed into a sewer where it was discovered several weeks later.

The police investigation, and subsequent murder trial, captivated the press and public both in Chicago and beyond. It soon became apparent that Cronin’s murder was the result of an internal dispute within Clan na Gael and fingers were quick to point at Alexander Sullivan, the leader of the Clan. Sullivan was never charged with Cronin’s murder but the press coverage surrounding the case forced Clan na Gael and its activities into the limelight. After such public exposure, the society’s ability to act as an effective fundraiser for Irish republicanism was greatly diminished. Many Irish in Chicago had joined Clan na Gael not because they had any overriding interest in Irish nationalism, but as a way of securing a good job; they were primarily interested in what the Clan could do for them, not for what they could do for Ireland. Cronin’s murder forced them to make a political decision and large numbers walked away from involvement in any form of Irish nationalism.

Chicago’s Irish and Irish American population was divided by the Cronin murder—a split that lasted into the early years of the twentieth century —and, despite the conclusion of the murder trial in December 1889 (several of Sullivan’s supporters were convicted), there was no appetite for any celebration of all things Irish on March 17, 1890. In 1891 the Saint Patrick’s Day parade was revived but it was a subdued affair, and it was many years before Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated with the exuberance we see today.

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Draft Report on Junior Cycle History


This morning RTE reported on a leaked document from the NCCA which is currently considering the place of History in the Junior Cycle.

Up until last September History along with Geography, Irish English and Maths were core subjects, but since then History and Geography have become optional subjects. It has never been more important that History is taught to every secondary school student. There are a myriad of reasons why History should be a core subject (some of which I’ve written and spoken about over the last few months – here are links to an article I wrote for RTE Brainstorm,Lecture, a lecture I gave to the Irish Association for Professional Historians (IAPH) – The Value of Teaching History – O’Brien lecture – IAPH, Limerick, Dec 2018 and an RTE radio programme).

I’ve read through the Dáil and Seanad debates, placed FOI requests and read through the media coverage of the decision and so far I’ve failed to find any persuasive case for removing History as core. The President of Ireland and the current Minister for Education are in favour of restoring it. And yet, it seems that the NCCA Council are not.

The Minister’s response to the leaked report was less than robust. He suggested that if History was not restored as a core subject then teenagers could learn their history as local history. I’m not sure what teenagers are likely to turn up to local history centres (wherever they exist) or maybe the minister thinks they’ll pick up an understanding of local history by osmosis while standing on street corners.

The cynic in me thinks that this draft may have been leaked to test the waters and see what public opinion might be. A new NCCA board may alter the draft report considerably. Whatever the new board do, the final decision is the Minister’s. If he wants to restore history as a core subject he can. I think he should.

Ireland’s Institutional Shame

home babies

Home Babies – (A)dressing Our Hidden Truth by Alison Lowry

(A)dressing Our Hidden Truths is an exhibition of work by Alison Lowry. It’s on at the National Museum in Collins’ Barracks, Dublin from March 2019 to May 2020.

Lowry’s exhibition explores the distressing and bleak history of industrial schools, mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries in Ireland. I visited on a Friday afternoon when the museum was largely deserted and apart from myself there were only a handful of women in their 60s and 70s exploring the exhibition.

It’s a very moving experience. Several of Lowry’s pieces capture the horror of what it must have been like for young women and children to have lived in institutions, isolated and powerless.

It’s a brave, uncompromising exhibition and the soundscape that accompanies visitors through the rooms is evocative and haunting – from the reading out of the names of the 796 infants and children buried in Tuam to the playing of a reworked version of Weile Weila Waile by the poet Connie Roberts. Robert’s re-imagining of the traditional song sets it in the Industrial School and Laundry in Sunday’s Well, Cork.

It’s a brave move too by the National Museum. As far as I am aware the museum is the first national institution to directly engage with the legacy of these institutions through an exhibition.

‘Home Babies’ is an exceptional piece. Nine christening robes in pate de verre (glass paste) hang in darkened rooms where they sway gently in the soft light reminding visitors not only of those buried in Tuam but of the thousands of children who spent their childhoods in these institutions.


But…and there’s always a but, there are a couple of pieces in the exhibition that I found problematic. One has pairs of glass scissors suspended from rosary beads hanging above a mound of hair. Another has hundreds of paper dolls cut out of old five pound notes – the one that had Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Mercy Sisters on them. These paper dolls tumble out of bags used in the offertory collections at mass. The link between avarice, corruption, abuse and the Catholic church is clear. Such criticism is valid. There were (and are) huge problems within the Catholic Church and organisations and individuals within the church have enormous responsibility for much of the abuse that took place within these institutions.


However, by having pieces that directly apportion blame on the Catholic Church it lets everyone else off scot-free. The misogynist state was as culpable as the church, society was as culpable as the church, individuals were as culpable as the church. Almost every girl and woman who was brought to one of these institutions was brought there either by or with the knowledge of their family. The Catholic Church is an easy target, but we all need to look closer to home to see what questions weren’t asked, what action wasn’t taken, what secrets were kept hidden. It’s not just the church that has to ask hard questions of itself, it is everyone who knew that these institutions existed and everyone who used the Magdalene Laundries long after rumours about how they were run had surfaced (the last laundry closed in 1996).


Visitors to this exhibition may leave thinking that nuns were responsible for all the ills of these institutions. They certainly bear considerable responsibility, but they are also convenient scapegoats and there is much more to the story of these institutions and the wider context in which they were allowed to exist. Excellent work is being doing, by historians and others , peeling back the layers of Irish society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and exposing unpleasant truths that need to be discussed, analysed and understood.

(A)dressing Our Hidden Truths is a beautiful and important exhibition and should be seen by many. I hope it sparks conversations and encourages reflection – reflection on the role played by the state, society, individuals as well as the church. We need to ensure that this sort of thing can never happen again. Society and individuals should not be allowed to feign ignorance and turn a blind eye to abuses perpetrated by organisations of any kind. Can we criticise those who did nothing when we too turn a blind eye to so much – to homelessness, to those in direct provision, to anything that might force us out of our comfort zones and to stand up and be counted?



Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement Conference – Dublin, 29-31 March

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The Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement is celebrating its Golden Jubilee and the conference at the beautiful City Assembly House in Dublin forms part of that celebration. 

Jessie Castle and I will be discussing the development of a number of Presentation Convents that were established between 1775 and 1829. We’ll be looking at the distribution of the convents across the country, but focusing particularly on the buildings themselves.

The papers that are being presented over the weekend are, as you’d expect from the GSIHS, very interdisciplinary and cover a wide range of periods. You can see the programme below or click here for more detailed information (and ways to register attendance).

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Attack on the Mummies of St Michan’s


St Michan's coffins

Elaborately decorated coffins in the Crypt of St Michan’s

The news that the one of the crypts at St Michan’s church in Dublin was vandalized is very disturbing. The crypts of the church on Church Street (very close to the Four Courts) have held bodies for over 800 years. Because of the exceptionally dry air in the limestone crypt many of the bodies have been mummified and (until 3 days ago) visitors could descend into the crypt and view the bodies and a number of elaborately decorated coffins.

I’ve been doing a Dark Tourism trip around Ireland for the last year and over that time I’ve been to over 100 museums, heritage sites, memorial, graveyards and galleries trying to uncover why the Irish seem obsessed with misery, suffering and death. I visited St Michan’s a few months ago and it was one of my favourite sites (indeed it has been a favourite of mine since I first visited years ago). It’s a disgrace that those who were laid to rest in the crypts have had their remains desecrated in such a fashion.

St Michan - nun

Some of the mummified bodies in the crypt

One of the bodies that was attacked was that of a man known as ‘The Crusader’ who, it believed, died in the 13th century. Not only were the bones of his body moved around the crypt, his skull was severed  from his neck and stolen. He is thought to have been a Crusader because of the way he was buried – his arms and legs were crossed which was a common burial ritual for those who took part in the Crusades. Another body, reputedly that of a nun, was also seriously damaged.

This was a premeditated act. The crypts are locked with heavy steel doors. Those who destroyed the crypt did so deliberately.

St Michan's doors

Entrance to the Crypt

The church is most famous for the mummies in the crypt but there were all sorts of excellent reasons for visiting. There was a church built on the site in 1095 and for over 450 years it was the only parish church on the north side of the River Liffey. The current church dates from about 1685, though further changes took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It’s possible that Handel visited the church and may have played the organ there when he was in Dublin for the premiere of his Messiah in 1741. While it is the mummies that lured most of the 28,000 annual visitors to the crypts I first went to see the coffins of John and Henry Sheares.

The Sheares brothers were lawyers from Cork and active members of the Society of United Irishmen. They, like many other members, had been inspired by the French Revolution and were determined to secure Ireland’s freedom from Britain. They were actively involved in the preparations for the 1798 Rebellion and were arrested along with many others in late May 1798. They were found guilty of treason and sentenced to be hung, draw and quartered outside Newgate Prison (just a few hundred yards from where their bodies now lie in the crypt of St Michan’s)

It would be a dreadful shame (and a great loss of revenue for the Church) if it remains closed to visitors because of the damage done by vandals.

St Michan's church

St Michan’s Church

Places to visit in Ireland during the mid-term break!

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It’s mid-term break next week so it seemed like a good time to suggest some more places to visit. At the beginning of the year I recommended ten places that I think were worth a trip –  A Top Ten of Irish Sites to Visit. But there are far more than 10 great museums and heritage sites scattered across the country, so here’s another selection of sites I’ve visited over the last few months that I think braving a chilly spring day for.

Cork City Gaol, Cork

Cork City Gaol - Gillian O'Brien

I’ve been here three times in the last year and really like it. The audio tour is engaging and nicely paced (though I’d skip the exhibition on the gaol’s life as a radio station…not least because it’s said to be in the haunted part of the building!) The visit is informative and entertaining….but the real draw is the old prison itself and the chance to step inside the cold, forbidding cells and perhaps catch a glimpse of the prison’s ghost.

Adults, €10.00, Children – €6.00, Family – €30.00

King John’s Castle, Limerick

King Johns Castle (2)

The Castle has a lot of interactive and informative, all-singing, all-dancing exhibits. It’s particularly strong on the 17th century – lots of battle and sieges, but there’s also a lot to be learnt about the history of Limerick. And you get to walk the Castle Ramparts (and see Thomand Park in the distance).

Adults, €11.70, Children – €9.50, Family – €40.50

Ulster-American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone

Ulster American Folk park

Not so much a park as a village (or more than one). There are museum displays in the visitor centre where the shop and cafe also reside, but once outside you get to wander through an Ulster Village before boarding a ship and disembarking in America where you get to see the sort of houses lived in by many thousands of Irish who emigrated across the Atlantic. The costumed guides in some of houses are great – chatty and informative, without making it too interactive. It’s quite a positive spin on the emigrant experience (and refreshing for that).

Adult – £9, Children – £5.50, Family – £25

Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Glasnevin Cemetery - Gillian O'Brien

A place I return to time and time again….and not just for funerals. It’s even better now that it’s linked with the glorious Botanic Gardens. You can walk around the cemetery and gardens for free or pay for entry to the museum and a tour. There are all sorts of tours available, and if you’re feeling energetic you can even climb up the round tower that marks Daniel O’Connell’s final resting place and survey the north side of Dublin City. The cemetery contains the bodies of most of those you’ll have read about in history books from O’Connell to Parnell to Markievicz, Collins and de Valera, but it’s often the lesser known stories that are most engaging – make sure you learn about the business of grave robbing!

Ticket prices vary depending on the tour. General ticket prices are: Adults, €13, Children — €10.20, Family – €36

Titanic, Belfast 


This is not a cheap day out, but it is really well done. I’m always amazed at the interest in the Titanic. It seems odd to commemorate a great failure – surely the shipbuilders of Belfast would rather commemorate some of their great successes, but it seems there’s no money in that! But if you’ve any interest at all in the Titanic this is the place for you (the amount of information is quite overwhelming so factor in a long coffee break afterwards!)

Adult – £18.50, Children – £8, Family – £45

1798 Rebellion Heritage Centre, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford


I hear rumours that this may be on the move from its current location so go now while you have the chance. There’s a lot of information at this site (and it feels like it’s written by a bunch of historians and as as one I can say that that’s not always a good thing!) But if you want to learn about the Rebellion this is the place to go. The recreation of the Battle of Vinegar Hill is worth the entrance price alone.

Adult – €7 Children – €3, Family – €20

St Anne’s Church, Shandon, Cork


I love this place, not only because it’s my favourite Cork landmark, but also because it hasn’t become one of those generic experiences full of interactive panels and mannequins. It’s a little rough around the edges and you’ll learn a bit about the Church, a bit about Cork and quite a lot about Campanology. But really, it’s about the climb and the bells and the view. You can ring the bells (how the good folk of Shandon put up with the incessant largely tuneless bell-ringing amazes me). If you’re claustrophobic and don’t like heights it may not be the place for you, but for everyone else it’s great. One piece of advice – go when it’s likely to be quiet as passing people on the narrow stairs isn’t fun. And make sure you find the wooden ladder that brings you out onto the balcony (no one told me it existed on my first trip!)

Adults – €5 Children – €2.50, Family – €12 (cash only)


View from the top!

King of the Vikings, Waterford


This one you’ll have to save for St Patrick’s Day or later as it’s closed until mid-March. Experience Viking Waterford in Virtual Reality. I found it fascinating, but I don’t play computer games and know little about VR so I’d be very interested in what those more au fait with computer graphics and games think of it. I’m taking my team of young museum visitors on my next trip and will report back!

No prices on the website

Fort Dunree, Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal

Fort Dunree - GO'B (1)

This isn’t the best military museum you’ve every seen, but it is the most glorious location. The fort is an amazing feat of engineering and I love the dilapidated former military huts and buildings that are scattered around the site. And it has one of the most beautifully located coffee shops you’ll find anywhere in the country.

Adults, €7, Children – €5,  Family – €15





The National Heritage Plan – make your voice heard.

I wrote the article below for RTE Brainstorm when the Heritage Ireland 2030 public consultation document was launched. The consultation period ends on 28th February and it’s vital that as many people as possible have their say about this document.

One of the key themes is ‘Communities and Heritage’ and it is disappointing that in recent weeks the Heritage Council have suspended their community grant programme. This is a worrying development and one worth noting in any submission regarding the Heritage Ireland 2030 plans. I’m also concerned that little attention is being paid to intangible, cultural and landscape heritage and these will form the basis of my submission….but there are lots of other points that could be made.

There are a number of public consultations taking place – details of some of them are here.

Submissions can be made by post, by email or by completing an online survey. You can find details about how to submit here.


Time to have your say on Ireland’s future heritage plan

Lough Feeagh and the Nephin mountains in Co Mayo. Photo: Michael ChambersLough Feeagh and the Nephin mountains in Co Mayo. Photo: Michael Chambers

Wallpaper: How everyday objects can make a statement


Bodies of Colour is an exhibition at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester until the end of April. Using the gallery’s collection it reflects on how imperial attitudes were often reflected in wallpaper.

I was particularly interested in one roll of wallpaper that was hand-printed in Manchester in 1853. It depicts six scenes from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The novel began life as a serial in The National Era, an abolitionist newspaper published in Washington D.C. and it was published as a two-volume book in 1852. The novel is set on the Shelby Plantation in Kentucky where the family want to sell Tom and a young boy, Harry, to pay off debts. The novel showed the stark reality of slavery and was an immediate bestseller with 10,000 copies sold in the first two weeks in the US and in Britain a million copies were sold in the first eight months.

An industry grew around Uncle Tom’s Cabin with a huge amount of related merchandise available – everything from card games to plates to figurines to wallpaper.

This wallpaper (which is extremely rare) was clearly commissioned by someone who wanted to make their anti-slavery feelings very visible in their home. The cotton industry in  North West England meant that there were many business and familial connections with the southern slave-owning states in America. There were many abolitionists in Manchester and Liverpool, but equally there were many who had made their fortunes from the slave trade so it was certainly not a decision made lightly by whoever commissioned this remarkable wallpaper.


Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Wallpaper c.1853 (at Whitworth Gallery, Manchester)

Other merchandise associated with Uncle Tom’s Cabin a 52 piece jigsaw (probably manufactured in England in the early 1850s):

uct - jigsaw

There were a myriad of other objects available to purchase including hand-painted playing cards used in ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin Card Game’ (1852), a plate (c.1855), and a Limoges vase (1850s) for those who wanted to display their anti-slavery credentials.

For more details see Virtue Displayed by Louise L. Stevenson and History of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ in the United States by Michael Winship.

More information is also available at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Upcoming Talks


Between the end of January and the end of March I get to talk about Maps, Markets, Museums & Convents.

On 26 January I’m discussing growth and change in Dublin from 1202 to 1847. Using information drawn from the Irish Historic Towns Atlas and with assistance from an excellent transition year student on work experience we plotted the location of all markets in the city from 1202 to 1847. The complete map reveals a lot about the growth and transformation of the city over the centuries.

At the beginning of March I’ll be talking about museums and heritage sites at the Irish Museums Association Annual Conference in Cork and at the end of March Jessie Castle and I will be in Dublin to discuss some of the first Presentation Convents in Ireland – we’ll be talking about the geographic spread of the convents and also looking at the architectural significance of some of the convents themselves.

More information about all the talks and conferences are below:

Saturday 26 January: ‘Mapping the Markets: Using the Irish Historic Towns Atlas series to trace market locations in Dublin across the centuries’, Buying and Selling: Dublin’s Markets 1500 to the Present, Dublin History Research Network Conference, Wood Quay Venue, Civic Office, Dublin. More information available here: Buying & Selling 

1-2 March: Irish Museums Association Annual Conference, Cork. Conference Programme is available here: IMA Conference

29-31 March: ‘Hidden in Plain Sight: Presentation Convents in Ireland from Penal Era to Catholic Emancipation’ (with Jessie Castle). Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement Conference, Dublin.

A Top Ten of Irish Sites to Visit in 2019

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So, a new year begins. I’ve begun it by filing my notes on the sites I visited over the Christmas break…and by starting a list of those I’ve to see in 2019. Since last May I’ve visited more than 70 museums, heritage sites, churches, cemeteries, national parks, galleries, workhouses, prisons, forts, convents and clock towers….to see how the tales about our past are being told. It’s been fantastic. I’ve learnt a lot (but also seen some howling errors) along the way.

The photos show a selection of the sites I’ve visited over the last year – if anyone can identify them all I’ll be very impressed!

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If you’re making plans to get out and about here are some of the trips I really enjoyed. For the most part I’ve been in search of sites that deal with tragedy and misery so don’t expect too many uplifting stories along the way!

This list highlights some of the sites that I really enjoyed. They are all site-specific and tell the story associated with the place rather than a broad sweep of Irish history. Some are free, others are relatively cheap (I’ve deliberately omitted the more expensive sites for this list). Most of these are slightly off the beaten track (and I’ve gone for a geographic spread) So, in alphabetical order:

  • Athlone Castle, Co. Westmeath – There are excellent displays to see with interesting information on the 1690 & 1691 Sieges of Athlone & more generally on Athlone history (and some of the best mannequins I’ve seen (& I’ve seen a lot!)). There are also lots of costumes for kids to try on!
  • Camden Fort Meagher, Crosshaven, Co. Cork – The location is stunning  Go on a good day where you can have tea in the cafe which has one of the finest views in Ireland. The panel text and exhibitions are a mixed bag (there’s a rather incongruous display about 9/11).
  • Carromore Megalithic Tombs, Co. Sligo – A megalithic site that’s older than Newgrange (as you will be told several times!) Take a tour if you can – the tour I was on included a great mix of history, mythology and archaeology.
  • Dunbrody Famine Ship, New Ross, Co. Wexford – A well-oiled machine. This is a very well put together package with a guide, some video and panel text to prepare visitors before they climb aboard the replica famine ship and meet several of those who sailed to America from Waterford in the 1840s.
  • Dunmore Caves, Co. Kilkenny  – A great mix of geology and history, with an intriguing mystery at its core. How did hundreds of people come to die in the cave and how much treasure is yet to be uncovered?
  • Glenveagh National Park, Co. Donegal – Glorious landscape and an interesting hunting lodge – a dark tale lies behind the pristine natural beauty.
  • Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna, Co Galway
  • Well worth doing a tour of the Workhouse. Learn about life in the workhouse as you travel from the Boardroom through the schoolroom and the yards to the dormitories. There are fascinating stories and the site itself is well worth seeing.
  • Kilkenny Famine Experience, MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, Kilkenny
  • A unique and fascinating experience. Be guided through the Kilkenny Workhouse through audio and video while you walk around the shops and food court in the shopping centre. It’s well worth your time.
  • St Michan’s Church, Dublin – Long a favourite of mine – though not for the faint-hearted. Visit the vaults under the church to see ornate coffins, the last resting place of some United Irishmen, some skulls and some mummified corpses who have broken free of their coffins.
  • Youghal Clock Gate Tower, Co. Cork – It’s a tiny museum, but it tells a myriad of stories. Learn about the history of Youghal and the Clock Gate Tower itself. There are stories of trade, of imprisonment and what it was like to grow up living in the tower. And on a clear day the view from the top is marvelous.

Just click on the name of site and it will bring you to the relevant web-page.

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