Visitor Centre Opens in Custom House Dublin

Dublin’s oldest and most stately building opens a visitor centre to showcase 230 years of history, architecture and trade. The Custom House is an architectural masterpiece by James Gandon.

Visitor Centre opens in 230-year old Custom House

The Custom House in Dublin marked 230 years of history by opening a visitor centre this week. The centre will tell the story of Irish history, architecture and trade. Known as an architectural masterpiece by the renowned architect James Gandon, the Custom House is one of the finest buildings in Dublin. 

It will feature a narrative journey revealing a story of Ireland with many layers, of people, heritage and history, spanning over 200 years. 

The exhibition flows and develops chronologically using each space to tell a chapter in the story, taking visitors from Dublin in the late 1700s through to the 21st century and giving them the unique and authentic experience of being inside the walls of one of the city’s most iconic buildings. 

Picture shows Aoife Deery (11) ; Jack Deery (14) and their grandfather Joey Lonergan at the launch of the new visitor experience exploring the building, burning and restoration of Dublin’s Custom House. Pic:Naoise Culhane

It will also show how the Custom House building witnessed some of the most momentous events in Irish history, from the 1916 Easter Rising to the birth of the Irish Free State and eventually the Republic of Ireland. The fulcrum of this story is the burning of the Custom House in May 1921, which is brought to life through captivating audio-visual interpretation and artifacts from the period. 

A Flagship Attractions for Dublin’s Docklands

The Custom House Visitor Centre will be a premier visitor experience in the Docklands area of the city, featuring new and interactive exhibits. It will tell the rich history of the building and showcasing its exceptional architecture. The project was funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with additional investment under Fáilte Ireland’s Strategic Partnership with the OPW. 

The visitor centre, which occupies the entire central area of the building, uses interpretive methods to bring to life the story of the Custom House. It is the longest-serving purpose-built government building in Ireland. 

The Custom House Visitor Centre was officially opened by minister Darragh O’Brien, Minister Patrick O’Donovan and Paul Kelly, CEO, Fáilte Ireland. The project has been developed by the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage in conjunction with the Office of Public Works (OPW) and in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. 

Speaking at the launch, Minister Patrick O’Donovan said 

“The opening of the Custom House Visitor Centre today will enable everyone to experience and view up close the magnificence of this iconic landmark and learn about its involvement in Ireland’s history as it watched over the Dublin skyline for the last 230 years.” 

Paul Kelly, Chief Executive at Fáilte Ireland added 

“Investment in engaging, world-class attractions like the Custom House Visitor Centre adds to the diverse heritage tourism offering of Dublin. Fáilte Ireland is pleased to support the development of this fascinating attraction in one of Dublin’s most iconic buildings. Bringing Dublin’s story alive in such an authentic way will entice domestic and international visitors to visit Dublin, to explore the city and stay for longer for many years to come.” 

The Custom House Visitor Centre is open to the public from November 2021. Full details on opening hours/admissions and booking are available here.

Joan Scales
Award-winning journalist, Joan has been writing about travel and tourism for many years principally for The Irish Times and lately for travel2ireland. Joan has appeared many times on television and radio talking about the business of travel and all its component strands. She is also a public speaker and has appeared at many international conventions and conferences.

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