There are few countries that could compare with Ireland when it comes to a number of writers coming from them. Four Irish writers won a Nobel Prize for literature. And you can feel so well that love towards the written word while in Ireland. During my trip to Dublin, I wanted to explore that part of Irish culture more and have created this literary guide to Dublin to help other bookworms to find places related to Irish writers in Dublin.
Irish writers in Dublin
I always wondered why there are so many famous writers coming from Ireland. And yet, not many Irish painters are well known outside the country. Is it because of the old tradition of Celtic bards? Or, would during those dark rainy evenings people tell stories next to the fireplace? Could it be that was the way to keep the Irish culture while under British rule?
I think all of these could be the reasons for it. Preserving the culture, telling the old stories in songs and being inspired by their country is what made so many beautiful novels being written in Ireland.
5 Irish writers you should know about
There are so many famous and wonderful Irish writers, it’s hard to choose the best ones. If you haven’t read any of their work, here are five Irish writers you should know about. I’ve also included some of their quotes, to inspire you to read some of their work.
#1 – Oscar Wilde
He lived during the second half of the 19th Century. Although born in Dublin, Wilde spent most of his career in London, US and Canada. One of his most famous novels is ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. He was imprisoned because of his homosexuality and died in the age of 46.
Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
#2 – James Joyce
Definitely one of the most important writers of the modern time. Joyce lived and worked at the beginning of the 20th Century. His most famous work is ‘Ulysses’, where he’s mentioning many places still existing in Dublin today. Other works he’s well known for are ‘Dubliners’ and ‘A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man’.
When I die Dublin will be written in my heart.
#3 – Jonathan Swift
Living at the end of the 17th and during the first half of the 18th Century, Swift is one of the most well known satirists of all time. He was often writing under the pseudonyms. Beside being a writer he was also a dean of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin where you can see his epitaph. His most famous book is ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ written in 1726.
The proper words in the proper places are the true definition of style.
#4 – Samuel Beckett
Born in Dublin in 1906, Beckett lived most of his life in Paris. He won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 and is one of the most famous members of a movement known as the Theatre of the Absurd. One of his most famous (and my favourite) books is ‘Waiting for Godot’ from 1953.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
#5 – Bram Stoker
Another famous 19th century Irish writer is without a doubt Bram Stoker. Most famous today for his iconic novel ‘Dracula’ that later on became an inspiration for many movies and books. He was important during his life as a business manager of Lyceum Theatre in London.
I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul.
Places in Dublin related to Irish writers
Having such a rich literary history, Dublin is filled with places where you can learn more about Irish writers. From bookstores, libraries to museums, here are some places you shouldn’t miss while in Dublin.
# – Dublin Writers Museum
*Address: 18 Parnell Square N, Rotunda, Dublin, D01 T3V8
This is a starting point for anyone interested in Irish writers in Dublin. They have a small exhibition with a great overview of some of the most famous poets and writers from Ireland. I was especially excited to see the first edition of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ exhibited. There is a children section in it, too, so it could be an interesting place to visit with kids. Museum has quite a nice bookstore at a ground floor, so be sure to pay it a visit, as well.
*TIP: Take a look on a link here for more info about opening hours and admission fee.
# – James Joyce Statue
*Address: 2 N Earl St, North City, Dublin 1, D01 K5W5
A statue of James Joyce is located at O’Connell Street on the opposite side of the road of the General Post Office. The statue was designed by Marjorie Fitzgibbon and installed there in 1990.
# – Trinity College Library
*Address: The University of Dublin Trinity College, College Green, Dublin
This is one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the biggest libraries in the world and they have a copy of each book that’s been published in Ireland. It’s also a home to Brian Boru harp, which is today a national symbol of the country. Established in 1592 it’s a home to more than 7 million books. The main chamber of the Old Library, was built in 1732 and it’s a place where the oldest books are placed.
*TIP: Get your entrance ticket on a link here!
# – Oscar Wilde Memorial Sculpture
*Address: Merrion Square, Dublin
Located in Merrion Square garden in Dublin, this statue of Oscar Wilde was created in 1997 and it was the first one created in honour of the famous Irish writer. Statue is quite an unusual piece of art with three different kind of stones used for it.
# – Book of Kells
*Address: The University of Dublin Trinity College, College Green, Dublin
One of the oldest preserved Medieval books was created in Ireland and could be seen today at the Trinity College in Dublin. Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book created around 800 AD. It has 340 pages and it was created by four different people.
*TIP: Book of Kells and Trinity College Library are some of the most popular sights in Dublin. To avoid waiting in a queue for hours to get in, my biggest recommendation is to get your tick online in advance. You can get it on a link here (it includes both of these sights).
# – Ulysses bronze plaques
*Address: different locations in Dublin (check out the map on a link here with all of them marked)
James Joyce has set up his ‘Ulysses’ in Dublin and he’s describing in detail some of its streets, restaurants and sights. If you would like to follow in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom from the Ulysses, you can follow the bronze plaques with quotes from the book and see some of the places he’s describing that way.
# – St. Patrick’s Park
*Address: Bull Alley St, Wood Quay, Dublin
In a park next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral there is a wall dedicated to famous Irish writers. You can read their names and most famous work and see their portraits there. It’s a lovely place to come and get yourself familiar with some of them.
# – Jonathan Swift Epitaph
*Address: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St Patrick’s Close, Wood Quay, Dublin 8
Author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ wasn’t only a writer, but he was also a dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. That’s why you can see his epitaph inside the church.
*TIP: Get your entrance ticket for St. Patrick’s Cathedral on a link here!
Irish Literature Walking Tour
Probably the best way to learn about Irish writers is by taking a special Irish Literature Walking Tour. You’re going to hear about some of the most famous writers, stories form their life and will see some of the places in Dublin where they lived, pubs they were visiting and some of the statues dedicated to them.
You can read more and book Irish Literature Walking Tour on a link here.
Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.
Bookstores in Dublin
One of the best souvenirs you could get home from Dublin is a book written by some of those famous Irish writers. While I was there I bought Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ at a bookstore in Dublin Writers Museum. Here are some of my favourite bookstores in Dublin to look for some Irish novels.
# – Bookstore in Dublin Writers Museum – This is a shop with a wide range of classics written by Irish writers. You’ll find anything from Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, books with biographies of those writers to some children books.
# – Ulysses Rare Books – A place with some of the first editions of works by some of those writers. If you’re looking for something special, this is definitely a place to go.
# – Sweny’s Pharmacy – This one is probably my favourite. Pharmacy mentioned in ‘Ulysses’ is today a place where you can find some great second-hand books. Readings are also often organised there, so it’s a wonderful place for all the bookworms in love with Irish literature.
Irish books you have to read
# – Bram Stoker: Dracula – Definitely one of my favourite Irish books. Published in 1897, it tells the story of Jonathan Harker and his journey to Transylvania were he met Dracula. With a help of his old teacher Abraham van Helsing, he’s trying to kill Dracula and stop him from coming to England. A true classic Gothic horror story.
# – James Joyce: Ulysses – Following a day in life of Leopold Bloom, the whole plot is happening in one day, on June 16th 1904. Joyce is making many parallels with a classical epic poem the Odyssey. Highly controversial since it was first published, a book today is one of the 20th Century classics.
# – Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot – Written as a play in 1953, ‘Waiting for Godot’ is a story about two men, Vladimir and Estragon who are waiting for a person named Godot, who never shows up. While waiting for him they engage in numerous discussions.
There are many more places in Dublin related to Irish writers. And many more books written by some of them, that would make a wonderful read. However, this is a literary guide to Dublin with some of my favourite.
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