Sunday, February 26, 2012

BeaterBlog Suggested Attraction: Irish National Transportation Museum

Just north of Dublin is the sea side town of Howth (ryhmes with growth) home of the Irish National Transportation Museum. The train ride from Dublin takes about twenty minutes plus a ten minute walk south along the coast. Our Rick Steve's guide recommended this place "only if you find rapture in dusty old trams and buses". Rick, I'll meet you there.

The museum consists of few unassuming metal buildings on the grounds of a ruined castle. Ruined castles are like Waffle Houses in the South and every little town has at least one. Inside the building, vehicles are packed bumper to bumper with just enough space for one person to pass at a time. Rick was right about the dust which gives the place the feel of a warehouse.

Trams and buses make up the bulk of the collection. With the exception of Delorean, I had no inclination of an Irish transportation industry. Ireland did have domestic truck manufacturing in the early twentieth century. Many of the exhibits are from the teens and twenties and look remarkably similar to American trucks from the same period. No, they don't have a Delorean.

Many later pieces in the collection weren't manufactured by the Irish, but used by them as Dublin City buses or Guinness delivery trucks. All the way at the back are several military vehicles, some of which were typical of those used against the IRA during the "troubles".

With everything packed into such a small space, its not possible to take a step back and take in the size of a bus or beer delivery truck. Unlike most museums where exhibits are roped off and kept at arms length this place forces you to get right up close. The atmosphere is refreshingly informal. You'll even find tools laying on trucks being worked on. Each piece has a one page description hanging somewhere from it and the docents are friendly and knowledgeable.

A warning was posted during our visit of budget cuts effecting hours, so check before you depart. Apparently, the building next door houses a large model train exhibit as part of the collection but we found out too late to visit.

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