Indulge Your Love of Literature in Dublin
Dublin is a city that pays homage to its creative sons (and daughters). The birthplace of such literary greats as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Samuel Becket, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw (to name just a few of the writers born in Dublin) has museums, gardens and all manner of sites dedicated to its literary history. Here’s how you can tour Dublin and get your highbrow literature fix in this beautiful city:
Follow the Path of the Ulysses
The James Joyce Museum is situated in the very tower that the first chapter of Joyce’s epic masterpiece Ulysses is set (the living room and gun tower are pretty much as described in the book). The museum contains Joyce’s letters, first editions of his books, photographs and assorted memorabilia relating the writer and Dublin in the era that his books were set. True Joyce fans should head to Dublin on “Bloomsday” (held on June 16th every year, so named after Leopold Bloom, the protagonist in Ulysses) that is hosted by The James Joyce Centre. On this day, the events of Ulysses are relived through marathon readings, dramatic performances of scenes from the book and plenty of Joyce themed action in pubs throughout the city.
Drink like a Writer
There are a number of pubs in Dublin with literary connections. James Toner’s Pub is allegedly the only pub that W.B Yeats ever stepped in: Legend says that a friend convinced him to come to a pub, which he considered vulgar, and he sipped one sherry before declaring his desire to depart. Poet Patrick Kavanagh apparently used to frequent James Toner’s Pub, which looks pretty much unchanged and museum like. Davy Byrne’s Pub was featured in Joyce’s Ulysses, and you can stop there for a cheese sandwich just as Leopold Bloom does in the book. For a fun tour of all the best watering holes in Dublin, there is a Literary Pub Crawl you can partake in.
Explore Literary History
The Writers Museum is home to hundreds of artifacts once belonging to Dublin’s most famous literary sons and daughters. Here you can see items such as Samuel Beckett’s telephone, numerous portraits of writers, letters, books and curiosities. The museum is a tad dry, but comprehensive, and has an excellent café and bookstore on site.
The George Bernard Shaw Birthplace has been restored to its previous Victorian splendor and was opened to the public in 1993. Here you can see where the famed playwright (and only person to win both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar) grew up, and the surroundings that inspired him throughout his literary life.
Walk Where the Greats Did
If the works of Oscar Wilde move you, there is a rather lovely tribute to him in the park that is bordered by Merrion Square. The state of Wilde reclining on a large boulder looks over towards the charming Georgian house he grew up in, 1 Merrion Square (W.B. Yeats also lived in one of the houses bordering the square) which now houses the Irish American University, and is surrounded by glass pillars with the controversial homosexual writer’s most lovely and famous quotes etched into them. Walking through the glorious grounds and buildings of Trinity College, where Wilde studied as a young man, is rather inspiring and worthy side trip.
Check out the Libraries
It is fitting that a city with such a rich literary history should have inspiring libraries. The Old Library at Trinity College is exquisite (and houses The Book of Kells Exhibition, showcasing the famed book that dates from the 9th century and is breathtaking to behold), and just walking through you can almost feel the weight of the antiquated books that line the towering shelves. Marsh’s Library, which was Ireland’s first public library and was founded in 1701 (and has not changed very much at all), is also very beautiful and worth visiting.
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