Dublin: The Literary Tour

If you are planning a trip to Dublin soon, you have much to see. You may be interested in some of Dublin’s popular tourist destinations, such as the Guinness storehouse, or some of Dublin’s renowned castles or cathedrals. Did you know that Dublin is also the birthplace of many great authors and poets? Some of the world’s most famous authors were born here, and Dublin is also home to a book that is Ireland’s greatest historical treasure.

If you are of a literary persuasion, you might be enticed by some of the interesting literary sights that Dublin has to offer–the birthplaces of Dublin writers, or the museums, centres and festivals dedicated to their work. Here’s a short list of literary-site recommendations, right in Dublin, for your next trip:

1. The Book of Kells at Trinity College

The Book of Kells is Ireland’s most prized cultural contribution to western civilization. It’s an illuminated manuscript, painted in Latin by Columban monks in the first millenium AD. Containing the four Gospels and the New Testament, along with a few other related texts, it is believed to have been transcribed in a Columban monastery in Ireland, Scotland or England around 800 AD. Its significance is monumental because it is well preserved, beautiful, and complete. Its illuminations are extravagant and complex, featuring Christian Iconography and Insular Art. You’ll have to make a reservation to see it at the Trinity College Library, which itself is worth a visit. See the website HERE for details and ticket information.

DUBLIN, IRELAND – CIRCA FEBRUARY 2016 – The interior of the St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Church of Ireland. The pulpit, choir and sanctuary.

2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral & Author Jonathan Swift

Next, you may want to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, the home-away-from-home of author and cleric Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), who wrote the beloved novel Gulliver’s Travels. Numerous adaptations and films have been made of this classic; even Jack Black played in a recent movie adaptation. Swift was a satirist, author, essayist, poet, and political pamphleteer as well as a cleric. He served as the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral back in the 17-18th century, wearing a Bach-like curled wig. Regarded by Encyclopaedia Brittanica as the foremost satirist in the English language, you can see bust of Swift in the Trinity College library.

3. Home of Bram Stoker, Author of Dracula.

Also immortalized in a Trinity College bust is Bram Stoker (1847-1912), the novelist who created the famous fantasy thriller Dracula. Although Dracula will inspire thoughts of Transylvania for most people, Stoker too was born in Dublin, living at 15 Marino Crescent, in Clontarf, which was a suburb of Dublin during Stoker’s lifetime. The home is privately owned, but you can walk or bike to it anytime. Visit this informative Stoker Estate website for more information about it.

4. The James Joyce Tower & The James Joyce Centre

James Joyce (1882-1941) is perhaps Dublin’s most famous writer. He penned Ulysses, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Dubliners, among other works which have been hugely appreciated and influential. Two locations in Dublin are dedicated to his life and work: The James Joyce Centre, located in a beautiful Georgian home, offers the visitor historical and biographical information about James Joyce and his influence in literature. Here you can see the door to the famous No 7 Eccles Street from “Ulysses”, a recreation of Joyce’s living quarters in Paris, and art exhibitions which bring the author and his works to life. Alternatively, The James Joyce Tower and Museum are located in Sandycove, just 30 minutes from Dublin city center. Here you can see the tower where the first few chapters of Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses are set. Be sure to visit these places on June 16th, which is ‘Bloomsday’ in Dublin. It’s a festival named after Leopold Bloom, the Main character in Joyce’s Ulysses. Festivities begin in the morning of the 16th at various locations in Dublin, and continue into the early hours of the following day. Visit HERE for more information.

5. George Bernard Shaw Birthplace

Another great of Irish literature is George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), best known for his play Pygmalian. His many plays won him a Nobel Prize for literature in 1925, and Pygmalion earned him an Academy Award as well, and later became the basis of the musical My Fair Lady, featuring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle. The home where he resided for the first 20 years of his life, at 33 Synge Street can be visited by walking tour or bike, but it is owned by the city and is no longer open to the public. Previously a museum (1993-2012), it is currently serving as a home for writers-in-residence, but refurbishing has been underway and there is some discussion by the Dublin City Council about reopening it to the public in the future. For more information about it, contact: shawhouse@dublintourism.ie

6. The Oscar Wilde House

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a brilliant playright and poet who also wrote one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. His plays, including The Importance of Being Earnest, and An Ideal Husband, were wildly popular in the 1890s, and are still often played in films and on stage today. The childhood home of Oscar Wilde, located at One Merrion Square, is the modern-day location of the American College at Dublin. The house can be visited on weekends through guided tours, and for walk-ins during the summer months. Follow a 90-minute tour here to learn the astounding story of the Wilde family; visit the Oscar Wilde House website for more information.

7. The W. B. Yeats Home

While you are at Merrion Square, walk down to the W. B. Yeats home at 52 Merrion Square, in East Dublin. It’s a private home not open to the public, but still worth a look. Yeats (1865-1939) is one of Ireland’s most celebrated poets, and one of the most prominent figures of 20th century literature. He also served two terms as Senator for the Irish Free State. You can see his beautiful Georgian home in Dublin by bike or walking tour. Learn more about it HERE.

Also of interest to literary travellers in Dublin is the Museum of Literature (MoLi), which is a partnership with the University College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland. The museum’s purpose is to bring visitors of all ages, backgrounds, interests, and abilities on a journey through Irish writing and to inspire them to explore their own creative potential.

Read the works of these world-renowned authors before visiting Dublin to get the most out of your trip!

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