Dublin Literary History

April 9, 2012 by

Tours & Activities, Uniquely Dublin

Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin, Ireland

Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature. There are only a few of them in the world (Dublin, Edinburgh, Melbourne, Reykjavik and Iowa City) so it’s significant and worth adding into your planning of a trip to Dublin. In fact, in Dublin it’s quite difficult to ignore its literary status and history. There are libraries, bookstores and museums in writers’ houses dotted all over the city, and many of the pubs claim to have been the haunts of the more famous Irish writers: James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde – although many of them spent years away from Dublin and spent more time at their typewriters than in the pub. Still, even writers need a drink at the end of the working day and in Dublin that means a visit to the pub.

To explore these you can join the renowned Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, a walking tour lead by storytelling actors who have regaled visitors to the city with anecdotes and scandals and tall stories for over 20 years. From the pub tables where some of the best literary ideas may have been born to the other end of the spectrum at Trinity College, the 400 year old university of Dublin and one of the greatest universities in the world, and home to The Book of Kells in the Trinity College Library. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript of four books of the New Testament and dates from around 800AD. It is one of the most famous books in the world.

More recent writing history can be found at the Dublin Writers Museum (18 Parnell Square North) which holds letters, portraits, first edition and inscribed books and personal items belonging to many Irish writers of the last few hundred years including pens, pipes, glasses, etc. They even have Samuel Beckett’s telephone. Nearby is the James Joyce Cultural Centre which aims to help us all understand Joyce’s writing and also organizes Bloomsday (June 16). And when you feel inspired to read Ulysses, buy a copy at the lovely Winding Staircase Bookshop (40 Ormond Quay).

- Philippa Burne

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