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32 niche museums worth visiting this summer – one in every county

At EPIC, we tell the story of Irish emigration and we know our visitors appreciate the level of research we do on this niche topic. Around Ireland, there are countless other museums that offer the same in-depth insights into their own specialist subjects. We can’t name them all, but here’s one in each county for you to explore this summer.

Antrim: Titanic Belfast

 

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Based on the former shipyard of Harland & Wolff, the impressive Titanic Belfast features nine galleries of interactive exhibitions.

These include an underwater exploration theatre, replicas of the ship’s cabins and an immersive ride which provides a sense of what the shipyard would have been like in the early 1900s.

Docked outside is the SS Nomadic. This was the Titanic’s tender boat, which ferried supplies, passengers and mail back and forth. This 100 year old steamship has survived two wars and was recently restored to its former glory.

Titanic Belfast is just 10 minutes from Belfast city centre by bus or car.

Armagh: Northern Ireland’s Secret Bunker

On the outskirts of Portadown, 15 feet below the ground, lies a nuclear bunker which dates back to the Cold War.

Volunteers went down the hatch for weeks at a time. If a nuclear explosion took place, their job was to monitor the radioactivity and its effects on the outside world. With living quarters and an operation room still intact, visitors can experience what life was like for these men.

While this isn’t a full-time museum, it is set to announce two open-days this summer. If the dates don’t suit, the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is a great alternative. A ticket to one of its star shows covers entry to the exhibition, which features meteorites and a scale model of The Voyager Spacecraft.

Carlow: County Carlow Military Museum

Based in an old church, this Military Museum in Carlow Town features a huge range of artefacts covering 800 years of history.

It includes everything from suits of armour and WWI gas masks, through to bomb shells and arrow heads. Most of the items on display were donated by local people and then carefully researched by the museum’s team of volunteers.

Against a background of stained glass windows, displays touch on everything from the 1798 Rebellion to recent UN peacekeeping missions. For history buffs interested in Ireland’s military past, the museum is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Cavan: The WWI exhibition at Cavan County Museum

Behind the grand Georgian buildings that house the Cavan County Museum, visitors will find the largest replica trench in the UK and Ireland. This outdoor attraction is part of the museum’s World War I exhibition, which touches on weapons, wartime media and the local soldiers who went to the frontline.

The trench contains more than 6,000 sandbags and was made to the specifications set out in the manuals of the Irish Guards. The experience is made complete with sound effects and visuals, which provide a sense of what life was like down in the trenches.

Based in Ballyjamesduff, Cavan County Museum runs a range of other exhibitions too.

Clare: Museum of Irish Rural Life

While Clare is best known for its natural sites, it is also home to this niche museum remembering rural life.

Based in an old creamery in the town of Kilrush, the museum features an old-fashioned kitchen complete with vintage jugs, jars, biscuit tins and an open-hearth fire.

The exhibition also features artefacts from JFK’s visit to Ireland and a