One of the unofficial symbols of Ireland that is easily recognized internationally is a little lucky leprechaun who has left a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. While the wet weather does bring plenty of rainbows to the Emerald Isle, real leprechauns are somewhat harder to find.
Luckily, a museum in Dublin has set out to change that by bringing leprechauns and other characters from Irish folklore back into everyday life. The National Leprechaun Museum is the first of its kind in the world and can be found right in the buzzing center of the Irish capital.
Want to visit and learn more about those oh-so-charming Irish creatures, and find out if they really do wear little top hats while they follow the rainbow? Here is a complete to guide to one of Dublin’s most unique museums.
The National Leprechaun Museum is the first museum in the world dedicated to leprechauns (and Irish fairies, banshees, and other mythical creatures). Director Tom O'Rahilly began dreaming of the museum in 2003 and it officially opened to the public in March of 2010. Due to the success of the daytime storytelling tour, the museum recently added an adults-only nighttime tour that focuses on the darker side of Irish folklore.
What to Look For
Located in a brick building on Jervis Streets, just a few blocks from the Spire in Dublin, the National Leprechaun Museum is a mix of kitschy exhibits showing leprechauns in popular culture and real Irish storytelling.
In fact, it is the famous Irish gift of the gab that is the real draw of the museum. Every visit is led by a guide who will entertain the small groups with stories from Irish folklore. Rather than just leprechaun myths, visitors are drawn into the mysterious world of Celtic fairy tales, which extend far beyond red bearded men in tiny green suits. The engaging guides are the main attraction, drawing you into the stories and helping you to lose yourself in the drama of the storytelling.
The guided tour passes through 12 different spaces where you can experience a fairy hill and climb onto oversized furniture for a chance to see what it would be like to see the world from a leprechaun’s miniature point of view.
After being inspired by the folktales and magical surroundings, every visitor is also invited to draw their own leprechaun and take a selfie with a stuffed mascot before the museum experience is over.
Some might say that the museum is a bit like a haunted house. While the daytime tours steer clear of scary ghosts and goblins, there is always an element of surprise as you step from one room into the next, shifting between imaginary worlds.
How to Visit
The National Leprechaun Museum is open every day. Visits are always led by a storytelling guide, who walks groups through the various rooms while sharing tales from Irish folklore. Daytime tours start every hour on the hour between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The daytime tour is appropriate for anyone over the age of 7 (younger kids may not be able to follow along or be confused by the fairytales). Adult tickets cost 16 euros, while children ages 7-17 pay only 10 euros for the 45 minute tour. Senior and student discounts are also available.
If you would like to experience a twist on the classic Leprechaun Museum experience, an adults-only (18+) tour is also available on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Known as the DarkLand Tour, this guided visit tells more twisted tales that would not be appropriate for children. Tickets are 18 euros and the tour lasts about an hour.
- There are no open visits to the museum so if there is a specific day and time that you would like to join a tour, you can book ahead of time online.
- It is recommended that you arrive at least 10 minutes before your tour departs. This is because no late entry is permitted, so you will not be able to walk in and catch up with the group if the tour has already begun.
- If you are hooked on Irish storytelling after the tour, be sure to stop by the gift shop to pick up a book of local fairytales to take home.
- The day time tour of the museum is a good option for children, who will be whisked away by the stories. However, the contents of the National Leprechaun Museum can be a bit underwhelming. If you are looking for more substantial exhibits, check out our guide to the best museums in Dublin.