What to do in Dublin: A Guide for Book Lovers + Writers
When you think of things to do in Dublin, Ireland, what comes to mind?
Do you envision yourself seated at one of the city’s many pubs, pint of Guinness in hand? Or, maybe you imagine touring the stunning architecture from Trinity College to Christ Church Cathedral. Both are very viable options in this bustling city, but that’s only part of Dublin’s story.
Did you know, for example, that Dublin also masquerades as a literary hotspot? Yes, you read that right. Besides the well-known stacks at the Trinity College Library, Dublin proudly acts as a “literary capital of Europe,” to quote Culture Trip. Here, a few of our favorite places to visit and things to do to create your own Dublin literary escape.
The Dublin Writers Museum
One of the first things you should do when you arrive in Dublin is visit The Dublin Writers Museum. Stationed in a charming 18th century house, the museum celebrates the astonishing heritage, legacy, and accomplishments of Irish writers. Their collections feature artifacts and writings from Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and William Butler Yeats. Marvel at a first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Samuel Beckett’s phone. The museum also features lectures, programs, live performances, and exhibits. It does not cover contemporary writers, however. That being said, you won’t want to miss this gem of a museum.
The James Joyce Tower and Museum
The James Joyce Tower and Museum recollects some of the moments from the life of James Joyce, author of many celebrated books, including Ulysses. The tower was actually Joyce’s home for a period of time in the early 1900s with a friend named Oliver St. John Gogarty and previously operated as a small defensive tower built by the British Empire. This same tower marks the starting location at the beginning of the book Ulysses.
Visitors can tour the exact room in which Joyce resided, which has been outfitted to mimic its appearance when the author occupied it. It’s free to walk around, so make sure to stay and immerse yourself in a point of Joyce’s life that proved instrumental in the formation and development of his famous novel.
Literary Walking Tour of Dublin
If you’re looking to combine literary greats with some brisk exercise, check out the Literary Walking Tour of Dublin! This guided tour takes you past some of the most iconic literary locations in the city: the birthplace of Oscar Wilde, the National Library, Trinity College, St. Stephen’s Green, and more. You’ll learn all sorts of fun tidbits about some of your favorite authors, including the literary figure who ended up marrying a fellow novelist’s girlfriend! Imagine walking in the footsteps of some of the greatest writers in history. Not only will you learn their stories, you’ll pick up and create some of your own!
Everyone knows that tea and coffee go hand-in-hand with writing novels! Bewley’s on Dublin’s Grafton Street caters not only to famous authors but also those who choose to follow in their footsteps. Its stunning stained glass facade is influenced by some of the more glamorous European counterparts. Opened in 1927, Bewley’s has hosted such greats as Joyce, Beckett, Patrick Kavanagh, and Sean O’Casey. If you go, make sure to try the famous Bewley’s Mary Cake!
Literary Pub Crawl
It wouldn’t be a grand trip to Dublin without a pub crawl! Colm Quilligan founded a literary pub crawl of Dublin that leads you to some of the watering holes frequented by Irish literary greats like Kavanagh, Joyce, and Brendan Behen. Even better, a troupe of professional actors entertain with renditions of poems, anecdotes, scenes from plays, and legends. You’ll visit such places like the Duke Pub, The Bailey, and Davy Byrne’s.
No writers retreat in Dublin would be complete without visiting the iconic Long Room at the Trinity College Library and its prize attraction: the Book of Kells. This illuminated manuscript has captured the imagination of visitors from all over the world since its creation in the 9th century. The college exhibits two folios of the book at a time: one showing some of the gorgeous illustrations and one showing some of the text.
After marveling at the Book of Kells, head to The Long Room at Trinity College. It’s consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The soaring wooden bookshelves hold unspeakable amounts of stories and knowledge in this hallowed space. Busts of writers, philosophers, and men who supported the college line the room. Take some time to lose yourself in this breathtaking place.
Literary Tour of Ireland
Geek out on all things literary? We do too. If you’re looking to do something particularly adventurous in Dublin, why not embark on an eight-day guided literary tour of Ireland? This tour, designed for groups of 15 or more, takes you to some of the most beloved literary locations in Ireland, such as Dublin, Sligo, Galway, Aran Islands, Limerick, Killarney, and the Dingle Peninsula.
In Dublin, you’ll experience some of the tours and places listed above while diving deeper into the history and culture of this amazing city. From there, you’ll travel to Sligo, long associated with the playwright William Butler Yeats. In Galway, you’ll learn more about the traditional folklore and history of the Irish people that inspired many Irish writers. The later parts of the tour will include places associated with playwright John Millington Synge; Frank McCourt, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Angela’s Ashes; and the writings of some native island-dwelling Irish people.
You’ll not only learn about Irish literary figures, but you’ll engage with Irish locals, immerse yourself in their culture, see some truly beautiful parts of Ireland, and spend time with other book lovers!
Ireland, and especially Dublin, has long been home to an astonishing literary tradition and history. Its writers continue to influence and impact the world. If you’re interested in exploring literary history, you’ll find no better place than Dublin. Books form a unique, fascinating, and lasting legacy of their own within Irish culture. To understand that legacy, take the time to walk in the footsteps of writers like Joyce, Yeats, Wilde, Kavanagh, and more. Perhaps you’ll learn a little something to make yourself a better writer. Or, you’ll learn just a little more about yourself. Either way, Dublin’s literary tradition is one that should not be missed!