EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum was recently voted Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards for the third year running. That’s ahead of the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, the Colosseum in Rome and Buckingham Palace in London. Quite a feat, and it’s here on our fair shores.

This museum has been on my bucket list since it first won this award back in 2019. I was initially under the impression it just dealt with the Famine, which is not true. It looks at Ireland’s history of emigration in its entirety (which of course the Famine is a part of) and also the impact Irish diaspora have had around the word.

Does it live up to the hype? I went along to find out.

The passport office and beginning of the EPIC experience. \ Nick Bradshaw

What you need to know

  • Pre-booking is not essential, but would be advised. They do accept walk-ins if there’s availability, but the weekends especially can get booked up.
  • It costs €16.50 for an adult, €8 for a child and €10.50 for a teenager.
  • What I wish I knew

  • The most important thing is to give yourself enough time at the museum. The recommendation is 90 minutes. We had just that as we were the last slot of the day. It definitely wasn’t enough time and we ended up rushing the latter half of it. I recommend two hours minimum – unless you have children with you, obviously that will hurry you on slightly – three hours if you’re fairly into history.
  • There’s an app you can download on smartphones called ‘EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum’. There are different vaults or rooms in the museum and the app gives an audio introduction to each. We had no headphones, which made this a bit impractical. So I would recommend bringing headphones if you have them.
  • Who it’s for

    I think it’s fair to say EPIC is for almost all ages. Naturally, younger children won’t get as much from it as those older than them. However, it’s very interactive, which will appeal to younger cohorts. That said, it’s probably most suitable for children over 10.

    One of the nicest touches of EPIC is the passport you’re given, which you stamp in each vault. This particularly appeals to children, although I myself was very keen to collect all the stamps!

    The passport you stamp in each vault at EPIC.

    What to expect

    EPIC is made up of 20 different vaults, each tells a part of Ireland’s emigration story or shows it from a different perspective.

    The discovering and inventing vault at EPIC.

    It starts by giving a brief overview of Ireland’s emigration history and where people travelled to, from the first Catholic missionaries to present day.

    The first seven rooms are the ones heaviest on history. They deal with the brass tacks of why and how people left Ireland. The journey from Ireland to a new place, settling in a new home, religion, the Famine and conflict are all covered

    The latter rooms are slightly lighter, exploring the impact Irish diaspora have had across the world. Sport, science, activism, music, dance and food are all included. Of course, Ireland’s famous diaspora are front and centre here.

    The start has a lot of meaty information, which I loved, don’t get me wrong. It’s probably the best part. But at times I even found it a bit emotional, so it’s nice to balance this with the uplifting lighter elements.

    This approach of having the harder hitting stuff at the start and the more digestible elements after, is part of the reason, I feel, the museum is so successful. Its structure makes the information easy to take on. What is a tough topic, is made considerably more accessible through this.

    As well as the structure, what also makes EPIC very palatable is how interactive it is. Not only are the displays very modern and videos used, there are also several interactive games you can play throughout.

    A sign in EPIC.

    The verdict

    I would 100% recommend EPIC and I do think it lives up to its name and fame. It deals with what could be a very heavy topic in an extremely accessible way. Also, the aesthetic of the museum, while reflecting the history it encapsulates, is modern.

    There are genuinely very little negatives to the museum. When we visited some of the sports vault was being updated, so that was a little underwhelming, but nothing overly noteworthy.

    As I said, just remember to give yourself plenty of time and bring headphones.

    EPIC is a lovely addition to any trip to the Big Smoke and gives a great understanding of why Ireland holds the place it does on the world stage.

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