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Insight Q&A: EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

Explore the fascinating story of the Irish around the globe

People looking at exhibition at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

You don’t need to be born in Ireland to be Irish – and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum explores the story of why that’s so. The museum is a high-tech wonder, located in old wine vaults in the Dublin Docklands. Opened in 2016, it’s the world’s fully digital museum – the displays are slick and immersive, and the stories they tell offer fascinating glimpses into Irish migration and the influence of the Irish on the world.

This intriguing institution is a favorite with CIE Tours visitors, and many of our tours give our guests the opportunity to visit. We wanted some special insight into why this new museum has so quickly become so beloved, so we reached out to David Cleary, Head of Sales for the museum, and invited him answer a few of our questions.

CIE Tours: What makes EPIC so special?

David: To put it simply, the stories and how we tell them. EPIC tells the story of the 10 million Irish people that left the island to make a new future, we not only tell the stories of why they left but also where they travelled to and what happened to them when they arrived in their new world. We celebrate their successes and try to connect these stories with the Irish diaspora all over the world. What makes it so special is the method in how we tell these stories through a fully digital museum with lots of immersive audio, video and touchscreen technology – it makes waking through the museum a unique experience.

CIE Tours: What is your favorite part of working there?

David: There are so many parts that I enjoy but one of the best is seeing people’s reactions to the stories and especially if they are visiting Ireland to trace their family history. There’s a real tangible connection that people feel to visiting EPIC and also doing genealogy in a beautiful setting.

CIE Tours: Has anything surprised you since you’ve worked there? 

David: One of the most surprising things is seeing the reach of the Irish people. Wherever I go and tell people about EPIC or the Irish, there’s always such a positive reaction.

CIE Tours: What exhibit is the most powerful for visitors?

David: I think each one of the 20 galleries in the museum offers something different to visitors but I always find that although we tell some of the harrowing stories of Irish history, people always love the powerful positivity of our Music & Dance gallery as people learn how the Irish people brought their traditions of music and dance to influence Country Music, Tap Dancing and Blues music to mention just a few. Visitors also get to test their Riverdance steps with our interactive dance teacher!

CIE Tours: Do you have a favorite exhibit/person featured in the museum?

David: Being a Limerick man, I always enjoy telling people the story of Margaret Eager. She was a Limerick born Nanny that travelled to Russia and was the nanny to the children of the last Tsar of Russia. Legend says that the Prince and Princesses learned English from her and started to speak with a Limerick accent! She was eventually replaced with someone who knew the Kings English but she kept in touch with the children right up until their death.

CIE Tours: Why should people visit?

David: If people are of Irish descent or even if they have a passing interest in the story of the Irish people, then EPIC is a must visit to explore their roots and connections to Ireland. Those who visit will also get to see why EPIC has won back to back World Travel Awards as Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction in 2019 & 2020.

CIE Tours: What’s the key to winning all those awards?

David: We’re very proud of the awards we have one particularly the ones voted for by the public and colleagues in the travel trade worldwide. I like to think that they reason that we are recognized is because of the passion of all of our team to celebrate the story of the Irish people. From our guides, museum curators and designers we think that a lot of thought and feeling has gone into designing EPIC and this shines through every day.

Visit EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum online at EpicCHQ.com/

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