The National Gallery of Ireland houses an excellent collection of national, European and Irish fine art. It is conveniently located in the centre of Dublin city, in the Georgian quarter being just a short walk from Trinity College and Merrion Square. The gallery was founded in 1854 and opened to the public in January 1864.

The art collection spans from the 14th century to the 20th century and encompasses all major art schools and art media. It has a considerable collection of renowned Irish paintings most of which are on permanent display, but is also known for its Italian Baroque and Dutch masters paintings. All major European schools of paintings are largely represented. Overall the collection amounts to around 14,000 artworks, consisting of about 2,500 oil paintings, 5,000 prints, 5,000 drawings, watercolours, some sculpture, furniture as well as other works of art, arranged for display in fifty four galleries.

Although not a large establishment, it does display works by many famous artists including, Caravaggio, Picasso, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet and Goya. Level one is mainly focused on Irish art from about the seventeenth century onwards, in addition to a smaller British collection. Level two contains works by international artists and many world renowned paintings including Caravaggio’s compelling The Taking of Christ.

A new wing was opened in 2002 and is called the Millenium Wing, this award winning wing is home to major temporary exhibitions that are displayed around its beautiful sky-lit atrium, as well as works associated with the twentieth century. It is also home to an art reference library, a lecture theatre and bookshop. The gallery’s old building is divided into Beit, Milltown and Dargan wings.

There is a Yeats museum here, it has works by Jack B Yeats, following his progression as an impressionist painter, there are more than thirty pieces of work by him. He was Ireland’s most important 20th century painter and was the younger brother of W.B Yeats. There are also works from his grandfather John Butler in addition to works by other artistic family members. It is a fabulous showcase of their works and a real highlight of a visit here.

The layout of the gallery can be confusing so visitors should ensure that they pick up a leaflet with the floor plan to help them get around with ease.

Under the Millenium Wing’s glass roof is a lovely bright and airy self-service cafe and upstairs is a restaurant serving lunch and afternoon tea.

The National Gallery opens daily and there is no admission charge. Guided tours are available for free on the weekends. The gallery also holds numerous talks, lectures, tours and events that are again free, as is the use of the audioguide, which are available in a number of languages.