EPIC Ireland is Dublin’s newest visitor attraction. It is based in the beautiful basement of the CHQ Building at George’s Dock (IFSC) and only opened last week. The exhibition is telling the story of the people of Ireland and you can “travel” with them. Thanks to @DarraghDoyle and the EPIC Ireland management, I got a chance to “travel” through the whole exhibition nearly 3 weeks ago and here are my impressions.
When you arrive you get a passport that shows you the stations on your travels through the exhibition and you can get a stamp in every room. But then it starts quite gloomy, because the Irish history wasn’t a happy story for long stretches. Emigration, unemployment, poverty and even death were everywhere. But luckily the fog lifts soon and EPIC Ireland celebrates the successes, the Irish people that made it, for example the scientists that had an impact on the world. It also celebrates Irish culture (Music, Sport and Pubs, but also literature, film, TV etc) and there are rooms for every aspect of culture. One of the most impressive one is a library, where you can move some books in the shelves and you hear then a reading of a section of that book.
The whole exhibition is heavily built around multi-media presentations. Many of them are interactive, which means that you are not only a passive viewer, but can experience the exhibition to a degree. There are very few panels that you have to read as you find them in traditional museums, but there are also quite few real exhibits. So you wouldn’t call EPIC Ireland a museum, instead it is a show. A multimedia show that uses more (touch) screens than you have ever seen before in one place.
After 1.5 hours travelling with the Irish people I came to the “finish line” (I rushed it a bit and could have spent at least another 30-45 minutes there) and at that point I had to think about my opinion of the overall experience. Not easy because it is so different.
EPIC Ireland was built by the same people that are behind the Titanic Experience in Belfast, but I have never been there. So for me this was the first FULL ON multimedia (not-)museum show and it was TOO much multimedia for me. I like slowing down sometimes and reading something or looking at exhibits, at EPIC Ireland one show element was immediately followed by the next as you walked through the rooms and at times I couldn’t keep up. However, this is just my preference, so what should I tell you?
After thinking a bit about it, I came to a definite conclusion: If you are Irish or have some Irish roots, you should definitely go to EPIC Ireland. It won’t cover all, there are many gaps in the story, but you should go nevertheless. You will probably only go once, but when you go, give yourself at least 1.5 hours, better 2 hours.
So should everybody go? I think, that if you are not Irish or have no Irish roots, but are just in Ireland because you like the landscape or Irish music or you just work here and don’t care too much about the history of Ireland, then this show is not for you. Foreign tourists should definitely go to the National Museum, but unless they feel (partially) Irish, EPIC Ireland might not be for them. In other words: American tourists with Irish roots HAVE to go :-) , but Spanish, French, German etc etc tourists can live without it.
The show elements and the work behind it is absolutely impressive and while I missed a few elements about today’s Ireland (Music, TV, Film and Politics and Science & Technology) I am ok with the fact that even the historical parts are in many areas only skimming the surface. EPIC Ireland is not a comprehensive historic treatment of Ireland, but it is an EXPERIENCE of Ireland.
So, go when you can get a chance and if you can afford it and build your own opinion! I mentioned it here and in general left it until last: EPIC Ireland is, together with the Guinness Storehouse, the Wax Museum and also the 1916 Experience in the GPO part of the newer and costly visitor attractions. In the past Ireland was the country where the museums are free, but these good times are behind us. EPIC Ireland costs EUR 16 for an adult and EUR 8 for a child, but unlike in the Guinness Storehouse, there is no pint of beer waiting for you at the exit. ;-) So at that price, it is not something that many would go to without thinking. With the amount of work to create this show and the vast amount of flat screens (I am still not over that! ;-) ) I can see how the price is justified, but I also have to admit that I still find it very high.
Should you still go? Yes! Save for a little if you have to and then go. Spend all the time there that you need, because you will most likely not come back, but do it once!
Opening times are 7 days a week from 09:00-19:00. Tickets can be bought and more information can be found on www.epicirelandchq.com/