6. National Library of Ireland
With its beautiful stained glass entryway depicting great writers of the Western World, the National Library of Ireland’s structure on Kildare Street is both a work of art and a working library. The domed reading room looks like it would have 100 years ago. Shhhhh…
The Georgian brick building with it’s gorgeous ironwork at 1 Merrion Square, now held by American College Dublin, is where author and dramatist Oscar Wilde lived from 1855–1878. The restored building is now used for exhibitions and other cultural events.
Other celebrated writers who once called Merrion Square home: William Butler Yeats and George William Russell (a.k.a. Æ).
The spot where the statue of Thomas Moore stands was immortalized in Ulysses with the line “Hot mockturtle soup and steam of newbaked jampuffs rolypoly poured out from Harrison’s” —a shop that no longer exists on Westmoreland Street. However, Joyce also showed his disdain for Moore in Ulysses with Leopold Bloom noting the statue’s placement: “[T]hey did right to put him over a urinal: meeting of the waters,” alluding to Moore’s well-known song.
12. Old Library at Trinity College
You’ll want to see the Book of Kells with your own eyes, of course, but you can’t leave the Trinity College campus without a visit to the Old Library. Built between 1712 and 1732, and containing 200,000 of the library’s oldest volumes, it’s as beautiful as it is historic.
Note the organizational design of the Long Room at the Old Library: letters marking each shelf, pre-dating the Dewey Decimal system by about 100 years.
13. Marsh’s Library
No visit to literary Dublin would be complete without a trip to Marsh’s Library, with it’s knowledgeable docents and librarians. Founded in 1701 by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, and containing thousands of important books and papers, Marsh’s Library is welcoming to tourists and to scholars doing research—and it also operates a conservation bindery.
14. Trinity College
Novelist, playwright, and poet Oliver Goldsmith stands outside the main gate to Trinity College, book in hand. Known for his works The Vicar of Wakefield, “The Deserted Village,” and “The Good-Natur’d Man,” Goldsmith attended Trinity College, as did Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, and Oscar Wilde.
While you’re in town, check out the schedule at the School of Drama, Film and Music theater at Trinity, named after another celebrated alum, playwright Samuel Beckett.
17. Book Shops
And Dublin has tons of great indie book shops for every kind of reader and collector: Hodges Figgis, Noble & Beggarman, The Winding Stair, Ulysses Rare Books, and Books Upstairs, to name but a few.
18. And More from “Dear Dirty Dublin”
You can round out your lit-nerd experience by catching a show at the Abbey Theatre, visiting the Chester Beatty Library (and its most excellent gift shop), taking in the sights from the Sean O’Casey Bridge, heading to Portobello for a tour of the National Print Museum and a stroll by George Bernard Shaw’s childhood home on Synge Street, or just sitting down for a cuppa at Bewley’s and feeling the literary history all around you.
(All photos © Julie Blattberg.)
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