Opened in 1864, National Gallery of Ireland is one of Europe's finest small art museums with over 15,000 artworks dating from the early 13th century to the mid-20th century. The permanent collection contains major European masterpieces and the world's most comprehensive selection of Irish art.
The gallery consists of four interconnected buildings: Dargan Wing, established in 1864, followed by Milltown Wing in 1903, and then Beit Wing in 1968. The final edifice, Millennium Wing, was opened in 2002. Within the gallery are examples of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and objets d'art. The four major collections are the National Portrait Collection, Yeats Collection and the galleries of painting and sculpture, and prints and drawing. The National Portrait Gallery is currently closed for refurbishment, but a selection of works is on display as part of the 'Masterpieces from the Collection' exhibit. The comprehensive collection of historic Irish art dates back to the 17th century when the tradition of easel painting was established. Of note is the Yeats Collection featuring the works of the Yeats family including Jack B. Yeats, brother of writer W.B. Yeats.
Entry to the gallery is free and complimentary tours of the permanent collection are available every Saturday at 12:30pm and every Sunday at 12:30pm and 1:30pm. In July and August, there are extra tours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2pm. Highlights of the permanent collection include Caravaggio's 'The Taking of Christ', Van Gogh's 'Rooftops of Paris' and Vermeer's 'A Lady Writing a Letter, with her Maid' from the continental contingent, while Ireland's favourite painting is a watercolour of ill-fated lovers titled 'Hellelil and Hildebrand, the Meeting on the Turret Stairs' by Irish artist Frederic William Burton. Due to the delicate nature of this work, the painting is only available for viewing on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11am to 12pm and on Saturdays from 3pm to 4pm.
Entry to the National Gallery of Ireland is via Clare Street. To get here, buses 15X, 44, 44B, 44C, 48A, 49X, 63, 77X and 84 travel down Clare Street adjacent to Merrion Square West - a two-minute walk to the entrance.