Tara’s Palace

The Tara’s Palace story started in the early 1900’s, when master Irish craftsmen were commissioned to build a wonderful miniature dolls palace.  It was called Titania’s Palace, and it took over 15 years to complete.  It was furnished with exquisite miniatures from the four corners of the globe.  Titania’s Palace toured the world, raising money for children’s charities. 

Then a sad thing happened.  In 1967 the owners were no longer in a position to tour with Titania’s Palace, so they sold the palace at Christies in London in aid of children’s charities.  The purchaser offered it to the Irish Government but the offer was not followed up.  Titania’s Palace left Ireland, and remained in England for many years.

In 1978, Titania’s Palace was put up for auction again in Christies.  Ron McDonnell, head of the Irish Antique dealers association led an Irish delegation at the auction, confident that they could buy the palace back for Ireland.  They had not allowed for the deep pockets of Legoland Denmark, who paid an astonishing £135,000 to take Titania’s Palace back to Legoland.  Once again, Titania’s Palace was lost to Ireland. 

However, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a great true story, with a fairytale ending began.  Ron and his colleagues decided “If Irish craftsmen could build one miniature palace, they could build a second one”.  They commissioned Irish master craftsmen to build a new miniature palace, modelled on 3 great Irish houses.  They named the new building “Tara’s Palace”, in honour of the fairy princess Tara.  Tara’s Palace took over 20 years to build and furnish.  It contains 22 stunning rooms, each furnished with exquisite miniature furniture, many of them priceless antiques.  Among the fascinating furniture is a collection of carvings made by Napoleonic prisoners of war, carved from bone pieces they kept from their scarce rations.  Following the tradition of Titania’s Palace, Tara’s Palace raises money for children’s charities. 

The great news about this true fairytale is that you can visit Tara’s Palace yourself.  It is on display in the Museum of Childhood, located in historic Powerscourt House.  In addition to Tara’s Palace, the Museum of Childhood contains hundreds of fascinating exhibits, including the amazing “house in a bottle”, “the smallest doll in the world”, and a collection of doll’s houses dating back over 300 years.   A visit to the Museum of Childhood is a must for any visitor to Dublin and surrounding counties. It is perfect for all ages, from 5 to 105.  Senior citizens love to reminisce about bygone days, while younger visitors marvel at the toys their grandparents, and great grandparents played with.  There is also a Museum Quiz, which is popular with all visitors.

To celebrate our 10th anniversary in 2010, the Museum commissioned Irish artist Maura O’Rourke www.orourkeart.ie to paint the Tara’s Palace Fairy Folk Collection.  Framed prints from the collection are available to purchase at the Museum for just €15.  The prints make an ideal souvenir of your visit or a perfect gift.  All profits are donated to children’s charities.


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