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Onsite Guided Tour: From Barracks to Museum: An Introduction to Collins Barracks

National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks

Tour at a glance

Level: 3rd to 6th class
Group size: 15
Location: Clarke Square, Soldiers & Chiefs, Curator's Choice, Out of Storage
Duration: 45 minutes
Available: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 
Booking: Please contact to book this session

This interactive tour focuses on the story of Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks) and the lives of soldiers who lived here between 1706 and 1993. Students will have the opportunity to learn about their daily activities, living conditions, drilling and marching practices and experiences going to war.

This tour will also explore the story of Collins Barracks becoming a Museum, and will introduce students to some of the most fascinating artefacts in the Museum's collection. In doing so, students will explore the idea of what is an artefact, what objects can teach us about the past and the lives of those who experienced it.

Curriculum links

SESE History

Working as a Historian
Time and chronology/ Using evidence/ Change and continuity/ Synthesis and communication/ Cause and effect/ Empathy

Local studies
My locality through the ages

Stories from the lives, myths and legends of people in the past

Life, society, work and culture in the past
Irish society in early 20th century 

Continuity and Change over time
Homes and housing/ transport/schools and education/ caring for the sick

Politics, Conflict and Society
1916 and the foundation of the state 

Other curriculum links

  • Visual Art (uniforms, symbols)

Learning outcomes

  • Exploring experiences of soldiers in both the British and Irish Army, as well as exploring the relationship between the soldier and those who lived around the Barracks and the wider Irish population
  • Making connections to local history
  • Examining the period leading up to Irish Independence and the foundation of the state
  • Learning about changing technology, healthcare
  • Understanding the impact of war on people from Ireland in particular
  • Developing an understanding of the importance of artefacts in our understanding of the past.

Resources and suggestions

Before your visit

  • Visit the Museum in advance, if possible, to get familiar with the layout, key objects and key narratives
  • Read literature and poetry depicting events from and around the period
  • Use these resources and the exhibition visit to imagine and discuss the feelings and motives of people in the past and to discuss how an event in the past may have been perceived by those who participated in it
  • Consider choices made by individuals and organisations and the contexts these choices were made in
  • Plan a project around your visit. Students could research key events and organisations

After your visit

Ideas for post-visit activities:

  • Ask students to write a review of their museum visit
  • Hold a classroom debate on a contentious issue or event
  • Consider the value of museums as places to display objects that connect us with our history

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Decorative Arts & History

Collins Barracks ,
Benburb St,
Dublin 7,
D07 XKV4

+353 1 677 7444