For Dubliner Trevor White, accomplished author and founder and curator of Dublin’s award-winning Little Museum, there’s no place quite like this effervescent and welcoming city. From the generosity of its people to the richness of its history, a visit to Dublin will leave a fond memory etched on your soul.
Travel on our Ultimate Ireland luxury guided tour and enjoy an exclusive invitation to meet with Trevor in Dublin, for a personal after-hours tour of Little Museum, which he founded. Here you will find history, humor and a warm Irish welcome as you learn about the city, his work and what it means to be a Dubliner.
We had the privilege to speak with Trevor to ask him more about The Little Museum, his life as a Dubliner and to get some expert Dublin local tips.
The Little Museum
Known as the “people’s museum of the capital”, the Little Museum is housed in an 18th century townhouse in the beautiful setting of Dublin’s St Stephens Green. “The Little Museum is Dublin, bottled,” explains Trevor. “Our work is about building civic pride; documenting the past; making guests feel welcome; kindling memories, tears and laughter; and, ultimately, bringing people to a closer understanding of who they really are.“
When asked what makes the Little Museum so special, he tells us, “Ordinary citizens are responsible for the success of the institution, because our collection was created by public donation. Philanthropists, patrons and the Irish government have also been generous supporters. There are over 5,000 artefacts which have been donated by Dubliners at home and overseas, and together they allow us to tell the stories of the city.”
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Small things tell big stories
Trevor tells us “In the Little Museum we use small things to tell big stories, such as the shutter with a bullethole from the Easter Rising, or the letter from 20-year-old James Joyce, asking Lady Gregory for money. Some of the highlights are more commonplace. My favorite artefact at the moment is a collection of tennis balls discarded by the dogs of Dún Laoghaire.” It was a rite of passage for many Dublin kids growing up to head to this coastal suburb for a “Teddy’s 99 ice cream (cone with a flake) and a walk on the pier.”
A charming item in the collection is a letter that John F Kennedy wrote in 1963, rather poignantly in the year that he was assassinated. Donated to the Little Museum by its owner, the letter was sent in reply to a little boy who wrote to ask the US President whether fairies only appear to Irish people. President Kennedy took the trouble to write quite a long response to this child to say that fairies appear to all those who believe in them.
“This artefact is a really sweet thing that speaks to political history and also has a very human flavor to it. It shows an intimate side of this very public figure’s personality.” Trevor explains.
A Dublin welcome for everyone
We asked Trevor how the idea for the Museum initially came about. “I spent my career writing about Dublin and have a deep love for the city,” he says. “I published a magazine called The Dubliner for many years and sold it in 2008. I spent some time traveling but needed a new challenge.”
“I was in a Dublin pub one night with a friend we fell into conversation with an Australian. We bought him a pint which is a very Irish thing to do, shared stories and told him the best things to do in Dublin. At the end of the evening my friend and I reflected that it was a really positive and rewarding experience.
“That night I bounded home to my wife, woke her up and enthusiastically told her that I was going to set up a greeter programme and open a museum of Dublin and we were going to welcome people from all over the world,” he recounts, “and she simply asked me if I had remembered to put the bins out!””
From that small seed the Little Museum was born. In its first year it had 25,000 visitors and in 2019 it had 120,000. The Museum has grown and has built an extraordinary collection, which Trevor tells us “Is a true reflection of the generosity of the people of this city. Dubliners have a big heart. There’s a huge warmth and generosity and hospitality in this city and we try to embody that in the museum.”
For the love of entertainment
“It is such a privilege to be able to extend hospitality to Luxury Gold guests,” he continues, “to join over a glass of wine or bubbles and have the opportunity to tell people about our work. Guests look forward to a warm welcome when they come to Ireland. The museums home was designed in the 18th century to enable its owner to host and entertain guests. We are very proud to have brought our townhouse back to its original purpose. These magnificent drawing rooms are not designed for intimate conversations, they are designed for entertaining on a grand scale and as such it is such a pleasure to be able to share such a building with visitors from all over the world.”
History, hospitality and humor
“There are three themes to our work in the museum” Trevor elaborates. “History, that is our subject, the history of Dublin and Dubliners. Hospitality, which is such a hugely important part of what we are doing on the museum and why it is such an honor to welcome guests from over the world. And thirdly, humor. When you ask what is it that makes the Irish Irish, conversation is a big part of our character and way of life. We try to embody that within the museum which is why all of our visitors are able capture the salty humor of Dublin itself,” he explains with a laugh.
In the footsteps of literary greats
Trevor is a former restaurant critic, publisher of The Dubliner, and author of five books, including The Dubliner Diaries. Of being a Dublin writer, he tells us “I am certainly conscious of the great literary tradition of the city.” Dublin boasts James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and W B Yeats amongst its esteemed stable of authors. “Anyone who writes anything in this town feels the weight of history on their shoulders,” Trevor admits. “In one sense it is a burden, but it is also a privilege to have grown up in a society where literature is taken seriously.”
“I am just finishing a concise history of Dublin to be published in the spring of 2023, hopefully to be ready in time to share with Luxury Gold guests,” he shares with us. “The whole purpose of this book is to provide a very lithe overview of the history of Dublin for visitors. So somebody coming to Dublin who knows nothing about it, a curious visitor, could sit down for a couple of hours and ingest the whole story.”
Europe’s biggest village
Renowned for its vibrant, friendly atmosphere and rich history, Dublin is a city with much to offer every traveler. Described by Dubliner Trevor as “Europe’s biggest village,” we asked him to elaborate on this. He tells us “What I am really talking about is the intimacy of this city.”
“Dublin is a small, easily navigable city. You can explore Dublin in a couple of hours, and that intimacy is part of its charm. The phrase Europe’s biggest village also references the gift for conversation that Irish people, an intimacy that visitors will experience first-hand.”
“When people come to Dublin, the first thing I tell them to do is go to a local pub. You will meet Irish people, and what will inevitably happen is that you will find yourself in conversation with a really good storyteller. That is one of the most distinctive and likable aspects of life in this city. And the city is full of gorgeous pubs.”
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A cultural haven
As well as a visit to the pub, Trevor advises any visitor to Dublin to spend time at the city’s national cultural institutions, of which there are many. “The National Gallery of Ireland, recently refurbished, in the center of the city, offers treasures galore, with everyone from W.B. Yeats to Pablo Picasso represented in their extraordinary collection” he says. A visit to the National Library is also one of the memorable things to do in Dublin.”
“Dublin is big on theatre and is blessed with two world class institutions,” Trevor enthuses. “Our national theatre, the Abbey Theatre was set up by William B Yeats, the great Nobel prize winning poet and you are guaranteed to see a memorable production. And the Gate Theatre, where Orson Wells started his career as an actor before he went on to make Citizen Kane. It has a very storied history and offers world class theater for a fraction of the price of Broadway and the West End.”
As a former restaurant critic, we just had to ask Trevor for his best places to eat in Dublin and he suggested four great ways to taste the city:
Etto – an excellent Italian European restaurant which serves wonderful food with a great, fun atmosphere.
Glovers Alley – fine dining in a spectacular setting overlooking St Stephens Green.
Chapter One – Michelin starred dining offering real Irish hospitality and an extremely accomplished chef.
Roly’s Bistro – very buzzy with a delicious menu.
To experience this exclusive VIP after-hours meeting with Dubliner Trevor White at The Little Museum, book onto our Ultimate Ireland luxury guided tour.