Dublin is one of the literary capitals of Europe, once being the home to such icons as Joyce, Yeats, Bernard Shaw, Wilde and Stoker to name but a few. June is the perfect month to explore this rich heritage as the city pays homage to James Joyce on ‘Bloomsday’. Here’s our guide to Dublin’s literary sights.
Bloomsday and James Joyce
Arguably James Joyce is Dublin’s most famous literary export, with the city forever immortalised in his iconic novels, ‘Dubliners’ and ‘Ulysses’. On June 16th, the city celebrates its famous son by taking the journey of Leopold Bloom, the lead character in ‘Ulysses’. There are also events held throughout the week leading up to Bloomsday. Devotees dress up in Edwardian costume to make their way around Dublin before taking in some of the events and readings held at the James Joyce Cultural Centre which is the hub of celebrations.
- Location: 35 North Great George St, Dublin, Ireland
- Opening hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun noon-5pm
- Admission: Adults €5, Students €4
- Website: jamesjoyce.ie
If this inspires you to learn more about Joyce, take a trip out from the city to the James Joyce Tower at Sandycove. This features at the very beginning of ‘Ulysses’ and graces many covers of the book itself.
Dublin Writers Museum
Just a short walk from the James Joyce centre is the Dublin Writers Museum, a wonderful building dedicated to celebrating the works of the many authors to have come out of Ireland. Here you’ll learn about the stories behind Dracula, Gulliver’s Travels and Pygmalion as artefacts and first editions bring the museum to life. If by the time you finish your tour, you feel inspired to get reading, there’s even a bookshop located next to the museum’s cafe.
- For more information, visit writersmuseum.com
Book of Kells
Ireland’s literary heritage isn’t a recent phenomenon and in the historic Trinity College there is a startling testament to that. Housed in the library is the Book of Kells, arguably the most important Celtic document in history. This beautifully inscribed manuscript dates back to the year 800 and is an absolute marvel. Detailing the four gospels, this is truly a work of art and is a must-see for any visitor to Dublin. Your ticket to see the Book of Kells also gives you access to Trinity College, where Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Jonathan Swift all studied at.
- Location: Trinity College, College Green, Dublin 2
- Opening Hours: Mon- Sat 9:30am-5pm; Sun 9:30am-4:30pm
- Admission: Adults €8.50, Students €8
- Website: tcd.ie
Dublin Literary Pub Crawl
Of course Dublin isn’t just famous for its impressive literary credentials. Being the home of Guinness and Jameson’s, it’s well-known that Dublin loves to drink so why not combine the two? The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is both extremely popular and fun. Starting just off Grafton Street, you’ll make your way around some of Dublin’s bustling pubs learning tales of the city’s famous literary sons whilst sampling its famous drink. Tours take place once an evening daily and it’s well worth booking your tickets online in advance.
- For more information, visit dublinpubcrawl.com
You can’t walk more than a few steps in Dublin before finding another literary site to visit even if you’ve visited the main museums. Visit Hodges Figgis bookshop, dating back to 1768 and mentioned in ‘Ulysses’ and maybe even pick up a copy of the book itself. See the childhood homes of Bram Stoker in Marino Crescent, George Bernard Shaw in Synge Street and Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, which is also home to his statue. Then relax with a walk around St Stephen’s Green and look out for Henry Moore’s statue of W.B Yeats and a bust commemorating James Joyce.