14 Henrietta Street: Welcome To One Of Dublins Most Unique Museums

14 Henrietta Street
Photos courtesy Antoinette Reilly via Ireland's Content Pool

A visit to 14 Henrietta Street is arguably one of the most overlooked things to do in Dublin.

And it is, without doubt, the most unique of the many museums in Dublin. 14 Henrietta Street is a place with a fine bit of history behind it!

And more than that, it’s a unique museum that reflects how family life in Dublin changed, and the economic highs and lows it went through over the course of 300 years.

Nominated for European Museum of the Year 2020, 14 Henrietta Street is well worth your time. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know before you visit.

Some quick need-to-knows about 14 Henrietta Street in Dublin

Although a visit to 14 Henrietta Street is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

You can find 14 Henrietta street on the left side of Henrietta Street as you walk towards King’s Inns from Bolton Street. It’s a 7-minute walk from the Hugh Lane Gallery, a 13-minute walk to O’Connell Street and an 11-minute walk to the Jameson Distillery.

2. Admission + opening hours

This is a museum that is exclusively a tour-lead visit (no bad thing) and guided tours run Wednesday to Sunday, on the hour, with the first tour starting at 10am and the last tour starting at 4pm. Additional tours take place on Thursday evenings at 5pm and 6pm. Tours costs adults €10 while students and seniors over 60 go for €8. 

3. The tours

There are actually a couple of tours you can choose from. You’ve got the standard house tour which is the main activity here, but there’s also an interesting Georgian Dublin walking tour which is great too. You’ll learn about Georgian Dublin from two very different perspectives and we’d recommend doing both when you have the time. 

About 14 Henrietta Street and the history of the house

 14 Henrietta Streettour
14 Henrietta Street by Sheila1988 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

While construction began on Henrietta Street in the 1720s, number 14 wasn’t built until the late 1740s and its first occupant was The Right Honorable Richard Molesworth, Lord Viscount Molesworth. With a name like that, you can probably guess the kind of clientele that Henrietta Street played host to!

Built over five floors, these grand Georgian houses featured a two-storey entrance hall with a cascading staircase, drawing rooms, a dining room and multiple bedrooms. Many of these elegant spaces were lavishly decorated to display the material wealth, status and taste of its inhabitants.

The 1800s and a slow decline

Occupants of high status continued to inhabit Henrietta Street throughout the 1700s, but at the dawn of the 19th century, the Acts of Union meant that all power transferred from Dublin to London and a period of gradual economic decline began.

Professionals began to move and rooms began to take on a more utilitarian shape, with the ornate decor making way for functional items like desks, quills and paperwork.

When Dublin’s population swelled by almost 40,000 people after the Great Famine and suddenly demand for housing soared, landlords and their agents started to remodel their Georgian townhouses into multiple dwellings for the city’s new residents. And of course, that meant big changes for Henrietta Street. 

The 1900s and the tenements

Amazingly, 14 Henrietta Street had suddenly changed from a sophisticated one-family house with handsome decor in every room to a cramped and crowded tenement housing 100 people, often with one family to a room.

And with over 850 people now living on this relatively small street, it was a hive of industry, including milliners, polishers and tailors!

The appointment of city architect Herbert Simms in 1931 and his expansion towards the green of the suburbs finally spelled the gradual end of the tenements and the last residents left in the late 1970s. After a long derelict period, the house was purchased by the council and eventually turned into the superb museum you see today in 2018. 

The different 14 Henrietta Street tours

14 Henrietta Street
Photos courtesy Antoinette Reilly via Ireland’s Content Pool

If you’re thinking about visiting 14 Henrietta Street in Dublin, it’s worth taking some time to consider which of the tours you’re going to tackle (both are excellent, but quite different).

1. The House Tour

The house today is the place to start and is a cracking way of understanding the crazy evolution of one of Dublin’s most fascinating houses. Led by one of several enthusiastic guides, you’ll learn exactly what happened, hear the personal stories and walk in the footsteps of the many people who called 14 Henrietta Street home. 

From a visual point of view too, it’s quite a ride! You’ll go from seeing lavish rooms typically found in stately homes to the grim squattings that had to cater for over 100 residents in the 1900s. You’ll certainly come out of this tour seeing Dublin in a new light!

2. The Walking Tour

Want to get a deeper insight into Georgian Dublin and visualise how pioneering Henrietta Street was? The Georgian Dublin Walking Tour is worth your time too and you’ll learn all about the man who built Henrietta Street and the luxurious lifestyles of its exclusive residents. 

Exploring some of Dublin’s most elite addresses and grandest Georgian squares, you’ll take a deep dive into the architectural and social history of the city and its residents, and reveal the details of the lives lived behind the elegant red brick facades. Just remember to dress for the (ever-unpredictable) Irish weather! 

Things to do near 14 Henrietta Street in Dublin

One of the beauties of 14 Henrietta Street is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best places to visit in Dublin.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Henrietta Street (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Dublin Writers Museum

places to visit near 14 Henrietta Street
Photo via Google Maps

Want some writing inspiration? Opened in 1991 at No 18, Parnell Square, the Dublin Writers Museum showcases the city’s legendary literary tradition and is well worth a look for any fan of fiction or budding writer. Through books, letters, portraits and personal items, the collection celebrates the likes of Swift, Shaw, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett.

2. The Hugh Lane

hugh lane gallery
Photos in the Public Domain

Inspired by one of Dublin’s more intriguing figures of the early 20th century (of which there were a few!), The Hugh Lane Gallery is a great little spot just a short walk from 14 Henrietta Street that showcases some sublime contemporary art. If you’re in the mood for a bit of modern art in a unique location, this is the place to come

3. Endless attractions in the city

dublin city attractions
Photo left: David Soanes. Photo right: JulianBuijzen (Shutterstock)

Celebrate some of Dublin’s finest literary artists by making the short 5-minute walk over to the Dublin Writers Museum or the James Joyce Centre, with both nearby Parnell Square. Head back down O’Connell Street if you want to see Trinity College and Temple Bar. Staying north of the Liffey, the Jameson Bow St Distillery is just a 15-minute walk west.

4. Food and trad pubs

food nearby
Photo left via Tomahawk Steakhouse on Facebook. Photo right via Eatokyo Noodles and Sushi Bar on Facebook

As I just mentioned, there’s a ton of great food and trad pubs if you head down O’Connell Street towards Temple Bar. From pizza to Asian cuisine, there are loads of food options if you’re in need of a feed, while there are lively old pubs on almost every corner. The Stag’s Head on Dame Lane and The Palace on Fleet Street are two of the oldest and finest you can visit.

FAQs about visiting 14 Henrietta Street in Dublin

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is 14 Henrietta Street free to visit?’ (it’s not) to ‘Where is there to visit nearby?’ (there’s lots!).

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is the 14 Henrietta Street tour worth doing?

Yes. The 14 Henrietta Street tour is arguably one of the best in the city. It was even nominated for European Museum of the Year 2020.

How much are the 14 Henrietta Street tours?

Tours costs adults €10 while students and seniors over 60 go for €8. Note: prices may change.

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