History of the Museum


As CHQ marked its 200th year, its relevance as a major Dublin landmark was asserted more than ever before, with the opening of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, Ireland’s first dedicated migration museum. EPIC is located in The CHQ Building in one of Dublin’s most historic locations by the banks of the River Liffey on Custom House Quay. CHQ, formerly known as Stack A, or the Tobacco Store, was built between 1817 and 1820 to store valuable cargoes of tobacco, tea and spirits. 

The museum was officially opened by former Irish President Mary Robinson in May 2016. It was the culmination of a longer process that began three years before. The need for a cultural institution that recognised the role migration plays in informing how we define who we are and the importance of the Irish Diaspora in the cultural, political and economic development of both Ireland and diasporic host communities, was long overdue.


“My own experience of being an emigrant has always stayed with me. And as they sayI left Ireland but Ireland never left me. Before retiring as Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola in 2009 my career took me all over the world, to 151 countries, living and working in 5 different continents.  I’ve always believed that the story of Irish people around the world was one worth telling, and so, I founded EPIC in 2016.”

Neville Isdell, Founder, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum


Throughout 2012 and 2013 a number of feasibility studies were commissioned that explored what a ‘National Diaspora Centre’ might look like, where it should be located and how it might be sustained, though no state funding was made available for its creation. The momentum to establish such an institution continued to grow with events such as ‘The Gathering’, a tourism initiative to encourage those of Irish descent to visit Ireland in 2013 and the establishment of the office of ‘Minister of State for the Diaspora’ in 2014 all contributing to renewed interest in the initiative.

Philanthropist Neville Isdell, himself a member of the Irish diaspora, agreed to house the museum within the CHQ Building and to fund the project that would become EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. With his support an academic advisory panel was assembled to research the exhibition content while a London-based specialist museum design consultancy, called Event Communications, was appointed to design and develop the museums galleries.

Since it opened in 2016 the museum has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and, as President Michael D. Higgins noted, played a key ‘…role in highlighting Ireland’s emigrant experiences, its causes and consequences, and its relevance to the stories of those who are, today, escaping marginalisation, poverty and conflict.’ 


EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum was voted Europe’s
Leading Tourist Attraction 2019, 2020 and 2021


We provide a powerful window into Ireland and its people by showing how Irish emigration has shaped the world.


We are a museum where innovation and interaction collide. We let people from all corners of the globe explore Irish history, culture and identity through the narrative of emigration

We follow 3 guiding principles:

– We research, collect and share the stories of Ireland’s diaspora through exhibitions, education and engagement (community and digitally).

– We innovate to enhance the visitor experience.

– We build connections with organisations worldwide to continuously represent the Irish diaspora.