Richmond Barracks

Richmond Barracks


A former British Army barracks built in 1810 amid fears of a Napoleonic invasion, Richmond Barracks is significant for its connection with the events of the 1916 Easter Rebellion. Following Irish Independence in 1922, the barracks took on various uses but was eventually reopened as a Museum in 2016. The Museum also incorporates the historic Goldenbridge Cemetary. I was keen to visit the Barracks for my own interest not because there was anything that seemed especially enticing for Pea. But you know, you can’t book a babysitter for everything, so this was a case of dragging him along and hoping for the best.

Our visit

Visitors to the Barracks can either take a guided or self-guided tour. The guided tour includes to Goldenbridge Cemetary so we chose the guided option. The Museum closes for lunch between 12.45 and 13.45 and we arrived at around 13.40. The next guided tour was due to begin at 14.00, so we headed towards the cafe to kill time before then.

As we walked down the corridor, I had a peek through the window of one of the locked rooms which is set up to resemble a school classroom. I involuntarily shuddered – the colour of the walls, the heavy wooden desks with the inkwells – it took me straight back to primary school. Irish classrooms haven’t really changed much over the years.

We gathered for our tour with our guide Niall. The tour began in the gymnasium – a nice open space for Pea to run around in with minimal risk of injury to himself or disturbance of others. We learned that every person in the country arrested for involvement in the 1916 rebellion – more than 3,000 – was brought to this very gymnasium where they learned of their fate. It was either prison in England or Wales or execution. The gymnasium is used as an exhibition space and the current exhibition, 77 Women, focuses on the women who were detained at Richmond barracks for their involvement in 1916. You can read more about them here, and the background to the centrepiece of the exhibition, a commemorative quilt celebrating the lives of all 77 women. I would have liked to have spent a bit more time looking at the quilt and reading about the women but Pea was being…well, just Pea.

img_7343Pea tearing around the gymnasium

The tour then moved into the main part of the barracks, or at least what remains of the original barracks building. There’s the classroom, which we didn’t access as it was being used for filming purposes the following day. One room is a re-creation of a soldier’s quarters and the remaining two rooms are re-creations of the residential dwellings that became of the site during two different periods.

The final part of the tour was of Goldenbridge Cemetary. The cemetery is only accessed through these tours or pre-booked appointments so it felt very special to gain access. Pea just wanted to play with the gravel on the ground so he stayed with his Dad near the entrance to the cemetery while I did my best to catch up with Niall’s tour.

Goldenbridge was the first Catholic Cemetary in Ireland since the Reformation. The most notable burials are W.T Cosgrave, the first president of the Irish Free State, and his son, Liam Cosgrave, a former Taoiseach. The thing that struck me most about seeing the grave (Liam is buried in the same plot as his father) is how modest it is.

img_7358Goldenbridge Cemetery

The story that will stay with me the longest though is that of 8-year-old Eugene Lynch. Eugene was killed while playing outside the Barracks. His death wasn’t instantaneous. He was taken to his grandmother’s pub and laid on a table where he bled out. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Goldenbridge, only recently discovered and given a headstone after more than 100 years.

I really enjoyed our visit to Richmond Barracks but most likely wouldn’t go back here with Pea until he is a few years older. The museum cafe, The Mess, is very child-friendly and has outdoor seating and a garden which Pea loved running around in so we would definitely come back for that.

Essential info

Richmond Barracks, off Bulfin Road, Inchicore Dublin 8. Open Monday – Friday, 10.00 – 16.00, access on Saturdays and Bank Holidays is only by pre-booked tours for minimum 6 people. Guided tours take place at 11.00 and 14.00 daily and cost EUR8. Self-guided tours cost EUR6. The museum closes for lunch between 12.45 – 13.45 daily, but the cafe is open then. It’s free to access the cafe and garden.




National Maritime Museum London

National Maritime Museum London


The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has not one but two dedicated children’s galleries – Ahoy! for under 7’s and All Hands for ages 6-12. Although I’ve visited this museum before Pea was born, I don’t remember lots and I was eager to go back once he was old enough to benefit from the under 7’s gallery. I also love any excuses to visit Greenwich as it’s one of my favourite areas of London, and it’s where I got married! Very appropriate then that this was the last of our London outings before the move to Dublin and Pea’s Dad was available to join us too so it was a very special family day out.

Our visit

We really wanted to make a day of this, so we took a Thames Clipper service from London Bridge City Pier to Greenwich. This takes a bit longer, but it’s so worth it as the river bus is such a chilled out way to travel in London and you get the benefit of cruising past some of London’s most notable landmarks on the way. Once we arrived in Greenwich, we stopped at the market for a much needed hot drink and snacks – it was a brutally cold day, and in such conditions I can’t think of a better thing to do than indulge yourself with some delicious Brazilian churros. Once we’d warmed up and sated our need for sugar we headed over to the museum.

Our first port of call was the Great Map where we released a newly-walking Pea on a mission to conquer land and sea. He had a whale of a time being chased across the oceans by his Dad. The Great Map is the gift that keeps on giving for parents, as it’s next to the coffee shop, so you can keep an eye on your little shipmates while you have a coffee.

One Pea had fully explored the map (and exhausted his Dad) we moved downstairs to the Ahoy! gallery to see what all the fuss was about. I was feeling cautiously optimistic about this one. I’ve taken Pea to some of the other play spaces at London museums but these haven’t been wholly successful. Much of this has simply been down to his age at the time – it is a challenge to design a play space or activity for under 5’s that caters for the full spectrum of that age. Ahoy! does a pretty good job of this, although Pea certainly got more value out of this now that he’s walking than he would have done as a crawler.

We first tried out the little rock pool area which was filled with plush sea creatures, buckets and nets. Pea was quite content in here and probably could have entertained himself for much longer but a large school group arrived soon after we did, and they were pretty boisterous so we elected to move Pea along to a quieter spot. That was a bit tricky, as the school group fanned out into all corners of the gallery like an army of cute excitable ants. Still, we found some respite in the mocked up ship’s cabin. We cooked up a stew in a huge pot and Pea attempted to loot some treasure from a trunk (the booty was glued down, probably just as well with our budding kleptomaniac).

Then we found the little fishmonger’s shop in the back of the gallery which was the big winner with Pea. He spent a good twenty minutes in here with his little apron on just scooping up mussels from the tray and tipping them back in again with that focus and determination that only a toddler has. Eventually, we moved him on as we were concerned he was preventing other children from enjoying it!


We spent about an hour and a half in here and could probably have spent longer but it was getting near to Pea’s naptime. Sure enough, once we left he fell asleep in his pram quite quickly giving us some time to investigate the rest of the museum. We had a quick look in the upstairs gallery for older kids, All Hands. It’s aimed at children from 6-12 years but I’d say it would be fine for younger kids too. It was virtually deserted when we popped in. From here, we went on to browse some of the other galleries. I was just scrutinising Nelson’s coat when Pea woke from his nap.

We spent the rest of the time at the Museum letting Pea waddle around and taking turns checking out some of the less baby friendly exhibits. We even got involved in testing out an interactive feature being developed for the museum. We stayed until closing time and felt that we’d thoroughly explored all the museum had to offer.

We had such a good time here that part of me regrets not taking Pea here sooner and fitting in a repeat visit before we moved. On the other hand, I think he was at just about the right age to really get the most out of this, especially the Ahoy! gallery. Whenever we are back in London for a visit we will be keen to come back to the Maritime Museum and see if our little sea dog has as much fun the second time around.

Essential info

The National Maritime Museum is at Park Row, Greenwich SE10. Admission is free. Facilities include baby changing, lifts and cafe.


Horniman Museum

Horniman Museum


The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill is a Londoner’s favourite. Being outside of the city centre, it doesn’t attract the same tourist footfall as the Natural History Museum or British Museum and it’s so much more relaxed for that. The permanent collection consists of natural history, anthropology and musical instruments. The dodgy taxidermy is legendary and a selfie with the famous stuffed walrus is pretty much obligatory. Having been a long-term South London resident, it’s a place I’ve been to many a time and it never disappoints but since I’ve had Pea I’ve come to love it even more as its so child-friendly.

Our visit

As a rule, I avoid family-friendly museums and galleries during half term in London because I simply do not have the tolerance threshold for the queuing and the noise and the madness that entails. However, my last visit to Horniman with Pea was indeed during half-term as I really wanted to check out the current temporary exhibition Colour: the Rainbow Revealed and I had limited time to do this before leaving London.

We arrived early, and it was as busy as I’ve ever seen this place with a queue for tickets, a queue in the cafe and both the ground floor buggy storage space and the locker room chock full of buggies, scooters and tricycles. Despite this, it took only a few minutes to queue for our exhibition tickets so we were soon inside, exploring “the many ways in which colour shapes our world”. Except we weren’t really, as it was, as predicted, pretty busy in there, and Pea had just that week started walking. So mostly I spent the time learning that a newly walking child is not really any less terrifying than a crawler, as there’s ample opportunity for them to be trampled. The mood room was nice and the little baby area with rainbow coloured soft play apparatus was very welcome but I don’t think we got the full benefit of this exhibition – I would have liked a bit more on the psychology of colour, and Pea was just a tad too unsteady on his feet at this point to be able to safely roam as he would have liked to.


A trip to Horniman is never wasted though. We went through to the music gallery and had a go on some of the interactive instruments there. It was a bit quieter in there, but poor little Pea still got bulldozed away from the bodhrans by an older girl. We then took a little walk through the aquarium, which is lovely, but Pea was sleepy by this point so it was more for my benefit than his. I didn’t bother with the museum cafe for lunch – it’s great, but was way too crowded on this occasion so I headed back out into Forest Hill and found a cosy little Vietnamese cafe opposite the railway station. It was nice and quiet in there, Pea slept and I got peace to savour a sweet coffee and the nicest Banh Mi I’ve had in London.

After lunch, we went back to the Horniman for a little wander around the gardens and the animal walk. The view over London from the Horniman bandstand is spectacular and it’s worth a visit for this alone. We went back inside the museum to check out Hands On Base, a special gallery filled with items that can be handled. This gallery is only open occasionally so we’d never managed to go before but it’s brilliant and Pea absolutely loved it. Museum staff were there to draw attention to and discuss some of the items, such as Brazilian carnival outfits, Chinese masks and, Pea’s favourite, a taxidermied fox. In addition to the handling items, there was a good selection of children’s books to browse and enough space for Pea to totter around.

Horniman is such a brilliant museum for families and I’ll really miss having a resource like this so nearby. It was a shame we needed to make our last ever visit during half term as I think we would have gotten so much more from the Colour exhibition if we’d gone during a quieter time. However, we wouldn’t have experienced Hands On Base which was easily the most successful part of our day.

Essential info

The Horniman Museum and Gardens is at 100 London Road, SE23. Admission to the gardens and permanent collection is free, but a fee applies for temporary exhibitions, the aquarium and the butterfly house. The museum has lift access throughout, a really good cafe, buggy storage, lockers and baby change facilities. Colour: the Rainbow Revealed is on until 28th October.