Home to The Book of Kells, birthplace of James Joyce and Nobel Prize winners William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett and now a UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin is a truly inspirational city with a literary tradition dating back over a thousand years! Dublin is bursting with literary gems. We’ve selected 10 to get you started!
1. Bloomsday Festival and celebrations
Bloomsday is celebrated on June 16th every year in Dublin. The Bloomsday Festival celebrates the Irish author James Joyce's novel Ulysses and the central caharacter Leopold Bloom. Ulysses readings, dramatisations, discussions, pub crawls, Bloomsday breakfasts and other events are performed across the city. Joyce fans really get into spirit and expect to see people dressed in Edwardian costume to really conjure up the atmosphere in which Ulysses was set – 1904.
2. Book of Kells in Trinity College
A trip to Trinity College Dublin to see some of Ireland’s most ancient literary treasures, including the Book of Kells, housed in The Old Library is an absolute must! The Book of Kells, a 9th century gospel manuscript, is one of the oldest surviving examples of Ireland's literary heritage. The beautifully decorated manuscripts were written by Irish monks and date back to 800 AD. Other than housing some of Ireland’s most ancient literary treasures, Trinity College is guaranteed to charm with its 18th century cobbled, historic buildings and enchanting grounds.
3. Dublin Writers Museum
The Dublin Writers Museum is perfect for anyone who wants to discover and learn about Dublin’s literary history. The spectacular Georgian building in which the museum is housed is reason itself to visit. The museum’s collection features three hundred years of books, letters, portraits and personal items belonging to many famous Dublin writers. For art lovers as well as literary lovers, be sure to check out the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane located right beside the Dublin Writers Museum.
4. The James Joyce Centre
Located just a short walk from the Dublin Writers Museum is The James Joyce Centre. The James Joyce Centre is housed in a beautifully restored Georgian House containing exhibitions and items that are all things Joyce! The James Joyce Centre host the annual Bloomsday Festival. A walk around the corner to Mountjoy Square Park, one of Dublin’s existing Georgian Squares is a hit for architect lovers. Before or after you visit the centre, make sure to visit James Joyce himself on North Earl Street! Well, a life size bronze statue of him. He will always pose for a photo!
5. Marsh’s Library
Marsh's Library was built in 1701 by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh and is the oldest public library in Ireland. The Library contains some 25,000 printed books relating to the 16th, 17th and the early part of the 18th centuries with subjects including theology, medicine, law, science, travel, navigation, music, surveying, ancient history and classical literature. Built 300 years ago, the interior of the Library remains unchanged and it is a magnificent example of a 17th century scholar’s library. Marsh’s Library is located beside the equally magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
6. Dublin Literary Festivals
Literary lovers are spoilt for choice with festivals dedicated to celebrating and exploring Dublin and Ireland's literary heritage are manifold, such as Bloomsday Festival,Dublin Writers Festival, Mountain to Sea Book Festival, Dalkey Book Festival,Franco Irish Literary Festival, Dublin Book Festival…to name a few. These events take place in Dublin throughout the year. So make sure to check the festival dates to see what’s on during your visit!
7. National Library of Ireland
The National Library of Ireland houses books, prints, manuscripts, newspapers, music, ephemera and genealogical material ensuring it posesses the most outstanding collection of Irish documentary heritage in the world. A trip to The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats Exhibition housed in the National Library of Ireland is said to be one of the most important literary exhibitions yet staged internationally! Free Guided tours of the Library and Museum are available weekly. The National Library is located across from Trinity College and around the corner from Grafton Street.
8. Folklore, Storytelling, Yarnspinning!
Experience local storytelling with an Evening of Irish Folklore & Storytelling! The popular evening invites you to experience storytelling and folklore over a candlelit dinner in the intimate setting of Dublin’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head. If you want more active involvement why not participate in the monthly storytelling group, Milk and Cookies, where everyone is welcome to tell a story. If you’d prefer to just listen to stories, grab an armchair, sit back and enjoy an array of tales, tall and otherwise from members of Storytellers of Ireland with Dublin Yarnspinners.
9. Dublin Literary Pub Crawl
This award-winning show progresses from pub to pub with professional actors performing from the works of Dublin's most famous writers - Joyce, Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan and many more. The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl certainly offers a unique literary experience in Dublin!
10. Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library houses some literary gems such as Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur'an, the Bible, European medieval and renaissance. The Chester Beatty Library’s collection also features a rich collection of manuscripts, prints, icons and miniature painting. The Chester Beatty Library is located in the grounds of Dublin Castle, so why not visit both!