In the Museum of Childhood in Powerscourt House just outside Dublin, I recently visited Tara’s Palace, an extraordinary replica 18th century dolls house, built by Irish master craftsmen over 20 years. The dolls house was commissioned by Ron McDonnell of the Irish Antique dealers association, just after the association’s disappointing loss at auction to Lego-land for Titania’s Palace, a similar dolls house, in 1978.
Much of the pieces of furniture are valuable antiques which work in with the twenty two themed rooms that are in keeping with a large Irish 18th century estate house, such as the silver room, the garden room or the nursery. The Ivory room is one of my favourites, where there are tables carved by French Napoleonic prisoners of war, from the bones found in their food.
The Museum of Childhood is run on a benevolent basis to donate to children’s charities. The entry fee is not expensive, it’s free for tiny ones, and they also sell a book about Tara’s Palace so I don’t want to give too much away. When I visited with my children they were in the play area a long time before I was ready to go, so it’s not just for children. There are also the Powerscourt house and gardens to visit, and the Avoca shop and café where I had just as much fun at one of their tables with a fantastic lunch.