Press Release: Ireland and the Birth of Europe

18 July, 2023

Ireland and the Birth of Europe

Ireland and the Birth of Europe opens at The Hunt Museum on Thursday, 20th July. This timely exhibition marks the fiftieth anniversary of Ireland’s accession to the European Economic Community. Ireland joined the forerunner of the European Union in 1973 but Irish participation in the development of European identities dates back more than a thousand years. Richly illustrated, Ireland and the Birth of Europe tells the story of the part played by Irish scholars and missionaries in the early history of the European idea. The exhibition was researched, written, and curated by Dr. Damian Bracken, University College Cork, and Dr. Angela Byrne for the Department of Foreign Affairs. 

The Hunt Museum Collection features a fine collection of medieval religious art and artefacts. This iteration of the exhibition is enriched by the inclusion of several of these objects of interest, including the magnificent O’Dea Mitre and Crozier. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with the exhibition through the use of interactives including Museum in a Box – handle 3D-printed versions and listen to the stories of museum objects. Activity sheets for children are available free of charge. Visitors are welcome to try their hand at writing Calligraphy using medieval techniques.

The exhibition picks up after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West, charting how Europeans built on its foundations to develop their own culture and identity. Ireland was on the periphery of Europe geographically but Irish scholars were instrumental in developing the European idea. St. Columbanus was the first of the Irish missionaries and scholars to make a home on the Continent and around the year 600, became the first to write ‘of all of Europe’ (totius Europae). In Carolingian times, Irish scholars took up leading roles in the court of Charlemagne and across the empire. From shaping values to influencing canon law, the Irish contributed to the shaping of a European heritage that endures today. 

Ireland and the Birth of Europe is a touring exhibition launched by Tánaiste Micheál Martin TD at University College Cork in April of this year. For the remainder of the year, the exhibition will tour throughout Ireland and worldwide, as far afield as Tokyo, Japan, and Chicago, USA. 

Opening hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am -5 pm, Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm, and closed on Mondays. Admission is free.

  • European History after the Collapse of the Roman Empire
  • The Role of Irish Scholars in Developing the European Idea. 
  • 50th anniversary of Ireland joining the EEC 
  • Kids Corner – learn how to write calligraphy 
  • Museum in a Box – handle 3D printed versions and listen to the stories of museum objects
  • Free Admission

Other locations and venues for this touring exhibition:


  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Germany, country-wide
  • Zagreb, Croatia
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Chicago, USA


  • The Hub, University College Cork
  • The Source, Thurles
  • Hunt Museum, Limerick 
  • Royal Irish Academy
  • Donegal Central Library, Letterkenny


Emma Twomey, The Hunt Museum

0879046784 |



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