A day trip to Dublin with a dose of sightseeing later in the day, we decided to spend the morning in search of leprechauns at the National Leprechaun Museum. Leprechauns fascinate me – Irish people have been telling stories about them for a thousand years so when I read about this place, dedicated to the wee green men of Irish mythology, it sounded like a fun and different way to spend the morning. All that plus it was right in the heart of Dublin, easy to find and a good place to expose Son to this Irish cultural icon.
We bought tickets at the entrance and having just missed a tour waited fifteen minutes for the next one. The building was not quite what I expected – more office than leprechaun hide out – but anyway… Everyone goes through the museum with a guide – our group was the three of us plus three others. They call it a “light-hearted journey through the myths of the Emerald Isle.” We started in a room with stacks of leprechaun related stuff with a few minutes to look around before our jovial guide arrived. Blessed with the gift of the gab, he was lively and chatted to each of us before launching into the tour. They had quite a few interesting things to see plus we were told about the Walt Disney movie – Darby O’Gill And The Little People (I’d never heard of it much less seen it) featuring our leprechaun friends. Apparently this movie transformed the original Irish leprechaun in his brown suit and red shirt into the green clad chap we instantly think of today.
A walk through a tunnel where we were supposed to “grow” bigger was, I thought, just a bit lame. The wooden replica of the Giants Causeway though just about peaked on the lame scale.
We entered a room full of giant sized furniture – chairs, a table and some cupboards, supposed to make you feel as if you’d shrunk. It was actually a bit of fun clambering onto the chairs – graceful was not a word to describe my endeavours – but we did have quite a laugh. Son enjoyed this most of all. Seated on those huge chairs, we listened as the guide told another leprechaun tale.
After that we passed through a series of dark corridors into other rooms and listened to more stories and myths. Lacking in atmosphere of any description this section of the tour was a bit disappointing. We sat around a crock of gold, walked through the poorest excuse for a rainbow I have ever seen and ended up in a room with a fake well where the guide broke into song in Gaelic. He sang wonderfully but somehow it all felt just a teeny bit uncomfortable.
Emerging into a courtyard we were encouraged to take pictures next to some wooden boards with leprechauns painted on them and finally ushered into a gift shop.
Apparently the Irish Times has referred to this place as the “Louvre of Leprechauns.” Not really our lasting impression, our guide was excellent and very engaging – he told us some great tales and kept our attention however, apart from the room with the giant furniture, everything else was a big letdown. No ambiance or atmosphere at all, I left feeling we should have spent the money on an Irish mythology book. There was scope here to have a lot of fun, somehow it all just fell sadly short.