About us

Charity number: 20205452

Dia daoibh from all of us at the Museum of Childhood Ireland, Músaem Óige na hÉireann, working in a voluntary capacity to bring you Ireland’s first Island-wide / diaspora / global, Museum of Childhood.

The Museum of Childhood Ireland adopts a wide-angle approach to childhood that is both islandwide and international in scope. Because there is no singular narrative that captures childhood / youth experiences in Ireland, we present an inclusive and holistic view of historical and contemporary childhood to inspire critical reflection and stimulate important and timely conversations about childhood in all its complex forms. We challenge the outdated belief that “children should be seen and not heard.” Our conviction is that all children should be seen and heard.

With research at the heart of what we do, the museum centres on essential core elements such as: Museum Collection, History, Culture, Heritage, Children’s Rights, Education, Literature, Art, and the Voice of the Child / Youth, historical and contemporary.

The museum is privileged to be the custodian of an historically significant permanent collection, plentiful Handling Collections, and loaned artefacts, which has enabled frequent ‘highlight’ exhibitions at the ‘museum’, and travelling / touring exhibitions around Ireland/ abroad. At the permanent museum home, Permanent and Temporary exhibitions will be interactive, engaging and suitable for all age groups. As all of our history and contemporary childhood will be researched and presented, special sensitivity will be shown around our /global difficult issues, with different pathways / restricted access areas in the museum. We are continuing our work on delivery design within and without the museum. How the museum functions within the community is vitally important to us. Accessibility by and for all is central to our aims, as is sustainability. Therefore a city or town centre location with good public transport and pedestrian /cycle friendly infrastructure, enabling the museum to be used as a frequent resource is desired. A priority at the Museum of Childhood Ireland, Músaem Óige na hÉireann too is ensuring, through proactive engagement, that the diverse stories and voices of individuals, communities, villages, and counties across the length and breath of Ireland are represented and heard in the museum, and that children are actively involved in decision making, from Planning through Implementation, to Open, Professionally staffed, Accredited Museum. 

Facebook: The Museum of Childhood Ireland Project

Twitter: @museumofci

Instagram: @museumofchildhoodireland

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/museum-of-childhood-ireland/

Email: info@museumofchildhood.ie

Telephone: +353 87 681 6760

Martin Swords and Teresa O’Donovan, Booterstown, Co Dublin, 1956.

Why we need a Museum of Childhood for Ireland.

‘I remember, I remember

The house where I was born

The little house where the sun

Came peeping in at morn.’

”I remember, as perhaps, you do, learning that Thomas Hood poem in school– a paean to childhood. In any group of people introduce the theme of childhood into the conversation and words and memories come tumbling out, jostling each other for space, for recognition.

Childhood is at once universal and deeply personal.  In the Constitution the State pledges to ‘cherish all of the children equally,’ This is a pledge that, sadly has been broken over and over again as through the years many Irish children have suffered and some have died through neglect.  We cannot right that wrong, we cannot raise the dead.  However, we can honour those children and bear testament to their lives and the lives of countless Irish children who have lived normal, loving, happy childhoods.

It seems remarkable that there is no one institution dedicated to preserving the memory and records of this important cohort of society.  This is a lacuna that the Museum of Irish Childhood will fill through collecting the fragments of the missing jigsaw of the past and through the active involvement of today’s Irish children, together creating a glorious record of Irish childhood. The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened for all of us the fragility of life and the brevity of childhood.  Let us remember our children and their childhoods as a beacon of hope for the future. Let us do this in a creative and lasting way by making the Museum of Childhood Ireland a reality.”

Dr Pat Donlon.

Rights March. Senator Alice-Mary Higgins as a young child, with her mother Sabina.

Why is the project for a permanently-homed Museum of Childhood Ireland so important?

“There is no simple or singular version of childhood in Ireland or anywhere.  One of the reasons myself, Colette Kelleher and others in my Seanad Civil Engagement Group proposed a Bill to promote Traveller History and Culture in Education is because we wanted all children to have an understanding of the diversity that makes up our national fabric. Children’s experiences are different, their circumstances and perspectives are different and what makes a community is when we can share and learn from each others stories. That’s why a project like the Museum of Childhood is so important  and needs a permanent home. By gathering stories and images together in one place it offers insights into the diverse experiences of what it was and is to be a child alive in an ever-changing Ireland and world. It is important to remember also that children may themselves help make that change! I am including below a picture of myself on a march at a very young age and some of the most thoughtful and strong activists I work with as a Senator are the young people demanding climate action. Listening to childhood experience and children’s voices can deepen understanding and I hope, solidarity. As a legislator, I draw on such solidarity when pressing for better social policies, including ones to respect and protect the rights of the child – a key priority for the Museum and its wonderful volunteers. As many children across Ireland navigate new challenges in these strange times, we must remember that their stories matter.”

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins.

We are members of the Children’s Rights Alliance, the Irish Museums Association IMA, Association of Independent Museums AIM, and the Charities Institute Ireland Cii.