In a country with a rich literary history, it’s no surprise that travelers journey to Dublin to find those inspiring places made infamous by the writings of Joyce, Wilde, Beckett and Doyle.
From historic buildings to the pubs of Temple Bar, the capital of the Emerald Isle offers an endless array of must-see places to find the lasting mark of Irish writers past and present. Discover and learn about Irish literature’s best-known scribes (and a healthy dose of Irish history) through these well-known neighborhoods and places.
Journalist and novelist Maeve Binchy grew up in the pretty seaside suburb of Dublin that is now home to Irish A-listers. Starting her career at The Irish Times, Binchy soon turned to writing novels and short story collections like Circle of Friends and Tara Road, which can be easily found in Dalkey’s The Gutter Bookshop, a popular local independent bookseller.
Opening its doors in December of 1904, this theatre (also known as the National Theatre of Ireland) was founded by poet W.B. Yeats and dramatist Lady Augusta Gregory. The first state-subsidized theatre in the English-speaking world, the Abbey Theatre is also noted for staging the first (and highly controversial) production of The Playboy of the Western World by John Millington Synge.
The James Joyce Centre:
The avant-garde poet and novelist has left a lasting mark on his hometown. Local revelers dress up as Leopold Bloom for the annual celebration of Bloomsday on June 16, the date on which Joyce’s novel Ulysses takes place. If you can’t visit on that day, the James Joyce Centre (hosts of Bloomsday) has permanent and rotating exhibits that give you an intimate look into Joyce’s life. Learn about Joyce’s legacy, and then toast his life at Davy Burn’s Pub, a 100-year-old gastropub well known for its amenable atmosphere, tasty cuisine and mention in Ulysses.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral:
Also known as The National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick, this is where St. Patrick baptized converts in Dublin. Its best-known literary connection is cleric and writer Jonathan Swift, who wrote Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal. Swift was dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745, and is buried in the church’s graveyard.
Make the pilgrimage to this pretty Georgian park to gaze at Danny Osborne’s colorful sculpture of poet, essayist, novelist and playwright Oscar Wilde. But what’s more important is across the street at One Merrion Square; the author’s childhood home is now restored and part of the American College of Dublin.
Although his stories showcase fictional Barrytown, readers of novelist Roddy Doyle can visit the real life inspiration. One of the oldest neighborhoods of Dublin, Kilbarrack is where Doyle grew up and worked as a teacher. The suburb also became a star in the filming of his book The Van, as local pub The Foxhound Inn was included as a movie location.
The oldest university in the city has many literary alumni, including Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. Trinity College is also home to the largest library of Ireland. Featuring The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament dating to 800 AD, the library also includes The Long Room, containing 200,000 of the library’s oldest books and one of the remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
National Library of Ireland:
With over eight million items, this reference library focuses on preserving Irish cultural identity through its collection of personal papers, letters and writings of many Irish writers. Fans of writer Colm Tóibín can learn about his early years as a journalist and burgeoning novelist/playwright at the library, where his literary papers, as well as works from his teacher/father Michael Tóibín, are accessible.