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Award-winning Dublin museum to tell story of city’s north side streets

14 Henrietta Street was recognised at the European Museum of the Year awards.

Tracey Bardon, visitor and engagement manager at 14 Henrietta Street
Tracey Bardon, visitor and engagement manager at 14 Henrietta Street
Image: PA Images

AN AWARD-WINNING MUSEUM that tells the story of Dublin’s north side is preparing to take to the streets as Ireland moves further out of lockdown.

Last week, 14 Henrietta Street landed a prestigious gong at the European Museum of The Year 2020 awards, scooping the Silletto Prize for excellence in engaging with the local community.

The building tells three centuries of north side history through the lived experience of those who once called it home.

The property took on many guises in that timespan, from a prestigious 18th-century dwelling for a wealthy Georgian family to an apartment block that, according to the 1911 census, housed 100 people.

Opened in 2018, the museum experience is anchored in oral history and storytelling, relying on tour guides to share its multi-faceted past.

embedded259660798 Iseult Byrne, CEO of Dublin City Council Culture Company, which operates 14 Henrietta Street Source: PA Images

While many museums and galleries will be able to open from Monday as part of the latest lifting of restrictions in Ireland, guided tours are still not permitted, so 14 Henrietta Street will remain closed for the time being.

The further delay to reopening has prompted the museum to develop a number of new outdoor walking tours.

The tours will focus on the Georgian heritage of the north side and also on the history of the Smithfield markets area.

The museum is owned and conserved by Dublin City Council and is operated by Dublin City Council Culture Company.

Culture Company CEO Iseult Byrne said it was “momentous” for the museum to have won the Silletto award.

On the timeline for reopening, she said: “For us it’s obviously really important to support all of the Government guidelines and the efforts and work within the guidelines, so we don’t think we can open for guided tours in the building next week.

“We think that’s not in the current opening schedule, but it will be in the future, of course.

“In the meantime, our online programmes will continue but also we’re hoping to be able to go live with local walking tours within Government restrictions in terms of the size and areas of them.”

embedded259660808 Tracey Bardon said she was looking forward to welcoming visitors back Source: PA Images

Tracey Bardon, visitor and engagement manager at the museum, said the tours would challenge a perception that Georgian history is the preserve of the south side of the city.

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“Georgian Dublin was built on the north side originally,” she said.

“Everyone loves the south side but Georgian Dublin was north side originally.”

Ms Bardon said she could not wait to welcome back visitors through the front door of 14 Henrietta Street.

“It’ll be amazing, it’ll be like coming home again because the house is meant to be filled with people,” she said.

“People want to come in here and our guides are itching to get back, so it’ll be like coming home again, I suppose.

“It doesn’t ever feel like work when you’re in here. It feels like being at home – it’s comfortable, it’s cosy, it’s friendly and, yeah, I’m really, really excited to get back into the building full-time and have people laughing and singing, or we might have a tinkle on the piano now and again.

“We might even have a little tear or two as well on the tour, which happens quite a lot on the tour but they’re happy tears at the end.

“I’m really excited. I’m really looking forward to coming back to work full-time into the building.”

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