Belfast Titanic Museum

Belfast 2016

This past weekend, B and I went up to Belfast for an overnight stay. There was a big tattoo convention on up there at the Titanic Museum. The drive up from Dublin is only about an hour and a half, and is a simple easy straight shot up on the M1. We left early Saturday morning and arrived to Belfast about Noon. This enabled us to go through the Titanic Museum and then on to the convention.

Belfast 2016

First the museum. It’s on the waterfront of the harbor at Belfast (view above) where many ships were built about 100 years ago. Among others for the White Star lines were the Olympic, the Titanic and many others. To commemorate the building and launch of the Titanic, and its subsequent sinking -there is now a museum built in a modern architecture style – which is designed to look like the prow of a ship. You can see it just behind us, below.

Belfast 2016

The museum itself is 5 stories and it costs 17.50 for the basic entry to the museum and the ship nearby. What I expected was not quite what it was though. The place was packed full of people (it was a weekend) and you went up to the main museum based on the time on your ticket. We started out by visiting the large ship nearby – the SS Nomadic. This was the ship that ferried passengers for the Titanic from the port of Cherbourg, France to the Titanic. The vessel itself is dry docked, and has been restored on the inside. There are a few tables, some wooden benches, and a partially interactive museum system. There are some displays of old luggage and some history of a few of the passengers that crossed on the Nomadic to the Titanic. The ship itself is a “supplement” to the larger titanic museum, so while it did lack in information and history (they could have told more about the service of the ship itself) it was ok. The decks were easy to wander and it was good for the 45 minutes we were there.

Belfast 2016
The main steam pipe for the Nomadic

Belfast 2016
Iceburg Lettuce Ahead!

After touring the SS Nomadic we headed inside the main building and were herded into a line with everyone that was on the 1:15 walk through. They promptly had us stand in front of a green screen to take a picture (to be super imposed on a deck of the Titanic, in front of the museum or any of 5 other poses you could later buy for 7.50 each). Then we were sent up an escalator. What we were expecting was a museum of history and artifacts and lots of details on the people who were aboard the Titanic. It’s not really what we got. There were lots people – and as you shuffled through – it was walls of reading and posters and old blown up pictures that were about Belfast, the manufacture of the Titanic (and other ships) and then about the white star line. You walked though area after area like this – much of which in such crowded conditions was impractical to try and read. (It was also quite warm). Eventually, you get to a point they send you up an escalator to the third floor and you stand for about 20 minutes to take a “ride” in a bucket around a room that comprises most of the 2nd and third floor). The ride moves you about from video screen to video screen while you listen to a radio broadcast telling you stories from those that worked building ships. They talk about the heat, they talk about the riveting process, and so on.

Once done with that, you’re marched into another room with more reading / large photo displays, a replica of two rooms of the titanic, a display of carpet samples, and some china samples from the manufacturing process. Eventually, you end up in an area with a repeating video of an ocean (and a fake railing which everyone poses in front of) and the lone item from the time – a letter sent before the Titanic disembarked from Ireland. Finally, you’re sent into a theater room with a repeating video of the underwater oceanographic view of the wreck itself. It is pretty much the same video you see in the movie Titanic with DiCaprio. Here, you take a breather – and then are sent through a bunch of oceanographic displays of old diving gear and modern technology (scuba type subs). There’s also an interactive display on multiple screens where you can “pilot” the subs over the computerized video of wreckage and try to pick out what’s there.

The last rooms are dedicated to the telegraph dispatches from the titanic, the lifeboats, and the survivors. There’s also an interactive computer system set up where you can look up individuals on the ship – and get some other very basic details. Again though -with the crowded nature of the museum – there were bottle necks and folks just didn’t try to read what was there -because it was almost impractical.

After leaving the museum, we headed downstairs for some refreshments at the cafe. I ended up getting a sandwich and white star lines piece of carrot cake:

Belfast 2016

The cake was fine, but it was served on a replica Titanic plate (let’s all ooh and ahh):

Belfast 2016

After that, we went up to the 5th floor of the building and into the Tattoo convention. This was very cool (though I didn’t take any pictures – how did I not take pictures?!?). Before heading to our hotel – the Tara lodge. The Lodge is straight downtown Belfast – and within walking distance to just about everything including the bars, the Queen’s College, and the Botanical Gardens. More on the botanic gardens tomorrow.


Leprechaun Museum Trip


I like living in Dublin. It’s a new city, and that means all kinds of new things to explore and do. When I can get a discount like I did last month from one of the online deals websites, I tend to jump at the chance to go out and explore my new home a little bit more. One of the more recent daily deals was for the National Leprechaun Museum, for half price.


Waiting to get into the museum

The thing is that I had 2 tickets, but I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to “borrow” my friend’s daughter (and give her parents a weekend sleep in) and her honorary uncle, and make a day of adventure for us all. Thus, I made some arrangements to meet at 10 am, take the intelligent Munchkin to the city to see the “little people”, have some lunch, and then visit the candy shop as a set of three people. I had a great time – and so did they. The Leprechaun Museum, in my opinion, is much much better with a child because they still have the innocence to enjoy the story telling.


We got there and were the last ones on the tour. The museum itself isn’t very big – it took about an hour to go through from start to finish. Through most of the museum, you’re accompanied by a story teller, who tells the stories of Ireland – this includes legends of the Leprechaun, tales of the Salmon of Wisdom, Banshee, and those are just the ones I remember. In the beginning, our tour guide told us how Leprechauns have changed their look – it used to be that their hats were red – the red gave them the “magic” powers. They actually looked more like the Gnomes of Germany, to me. As she told us the tale, she pointed us to a tunnel – where we got to enter the magical (Abstract) world of the Leprechauns.


From there, we were taken to a wooden abstract representation of the Giant’s Causeway, which was almost like a maze, full of things too small for me as an adult to climb on, but for the kid – exciting to climb up and perch, wander through and hide, and even look through for a different view above the museum rooms.


Once we found our way out, the next room we entered was the Giant’s room. Everything in here was 3 times bigger than normal size. The dining table and chairs, the easy chair, lamp, and easy chair. The giant coffee cup. A huge set of dresser drawers. For adults, it’s like being a kid again. For the kids, well, it’s extra big and makes for tons of laughter and delight.



From this room, the munchkin raced along forward and hit a hallway filled with the legend of the red socks. I read it to her and a few of the other children about the place as we walked along the hallway. The summary of the story was that there was a leprechaun who got caught by a man. Knowing that once caught, Leprechauns have to give their gold over to the one who caught them, the man was delighted. He kept his eyes on the sneaky Leprechaun and forced it to lead him to the gold. The Leprechaun led the man to a grove of trees, and pointed out where the gold was buried. Not having a spade handy, the man took off his red sock and tied it to the tree, letting the Leprechaun go. Then, he headed home to get something dig up and carry the gold with. When he returned, he found that all the trees had red socks tied to them. The result was that he decided there were too many trees with socks, and it would take too long to find the gold again. (It’s supposed to illustrate how tricky the Leprechaun are.)As we rounded the final corner, we were in a room filled with black trees and red socks – and on the walls there was a creative use of mirrors that made the room feel bigger than it was.


From there, we walked through a few rooms with an Irish map, some Mythical Irish place names.. and on the ceiling were a series of umbrellas:


As we left this room, and went into the next, we walked through an Irish Rainbow …

Walking through a rainbow

And found ourselves looking at the pot of gold:


Another tale was told, and we headed into the final rooms, filled with a wishing well to make a wish in and and plenty more legends to think about on the way to Mc Donald’s for lunch, and then to the candy shop for a cupcake and candy.

Making a Wish

Two thoughts on the Leprechaun museum – 1) Go early and try to go during the week. If you can’t get in on one of the tours, it’s about an hour or two wait for the next tour. 2) Take a child. It’s so much more delightful as they discover the legends and race from room to room with excitement.


National Wax Museum

Great Blessings upon you as you go down the stairs...

The beginning of January, when it was still winter and quite bleak and bleary I came across a two for one offer for the Irish National Wax museum. It normally costs 10 euro entry per person, so I figured two for one was a good deal and couldn’t resist the thought of a warm museum on a cold wet day where you just wanted to get out of the house.

After a good bit of poking and prodding, I finally talked Tony into going to the wax museum on a very rainy gray Saturday in early February. In the beginning, he wasn’t too thrilled – and by the end – I’m glad I paid half price for the tickets – as I’m not sure I would have been too happy with the 10 euro price.

He's too happy to be a 'Freddy' Victim...
Silly Guy – he’s too happy to be a “Freddy” victim…

So, I show him how to do it right...
So I had to show him how to do it properly…

It wasn’t that the exhibits were bad – they were actually very well done and could have been really interesting. The problem was that the building itself has apparently moved (per the taxi driver that took me home) from a very large former cinema building to a now tourist heavy district (price raised and apparently so did foot traffic) – in one of the old buildings that were built in the late 1800’s for the Bank of Ireland. The result is that in order to fully use the space – they have exhibits starting in the basement – in the 8 foot x 6 foot safes, and to say the least, they’re quite crammed in. The thing is that these exhibits (to me at least) would have been the most interesting – because they were about the history of Ireland and famous people / events from the beginning of the Iron age all the way through the break away from the UK. In fact, at different points in the basement, the rooms were so full of statues that you could fit 2 people inside the vault comfortably – but any more than that, and you couldn’t see/read the signage that was posted and you couldn’t hear the piped in narration. Thus, in a crowded museum with a narrow basement hallway – we found ourselves turning sideways to pass, leaving rooms before we were done, and skipping exhibits in rooms that were too full of other visitors.

The main / upper floors, however, were a different story. On one of the floors, there was an entire area dedicated to the wonderful world of children’s fantasy. As you went up the stairs, you spiralled around a giant beanstock – and gazed up at Jack and Giant –

Fe Fi Fo Fum...

There was also a snow white mirror, several cartoon exhibits (including the simpsons, sponge bob square pants, and the teenage mutant ninja turtles…

Sponge Bob square pants

Me fighting Michaelangelo, Teenage mutant ninja turtle

As well as an animated sleeping Santa claus (complete with moving chest and snoring sounds).

Sleeping Santa

There was also a brief exhibit of famous Rock stars including Michael Jackson, Jimmy Hendrix, and Madonna and a few “movie” characters, including Freddy (above), several characters from Star Wars:

A photo take you, I think? (yoda, anikken)

Obi Wan fighting the Sith

One other thing to note is that there was also an entire section that seemed somewhat mis-placed. It contained a ton of exhibits on science and technology – including “green” power. (There were no statues here). It was interesting for the kids -and great fun – but being it was in one of the larger room type areas, I thought it was rather strange. I almost would have put these in the basement – and the statues from the basement into this area – as this was on the floor between the children’s fantasy room and the movie/rockers rooms.

On the bright side, we did have a good time (thankfully for only 5 euros each) before having dinner and heading back out of the city.